As part of the deal that ended the shutdown of the federal government, the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, was reauthorized for six years.
That means families in Virginia that rely on CHIP for coverage for their children will not lose their coverage at the end of the month, as many feared.
The Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services is expected to begin notifying families that use the Family Access to Medical Insurance Security, or FAMIS, program that they will see uninterrupted coverage.
"Virginians who were worried that their children's health care would be disrupted by Congress' inability to reauthorize CHIP can breathe a sigh of relief," said Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. "The families who will receive this notification should not have had to wait this long to get certainty about their children's' health care. I hope the difficulty this episode created for many states and families will be a wakeup call to those in Washington who allowed this important program to expire and hang in the balance for so long."
CHIP had expired at the end of September, and Virginia notified families in December that the program would run out of funding at the end of January, unless it was reauthorized.
The reauthorization was part of the Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government through the beginning of February, but the U.S. Senate was unable to reach an agreement, which caused the government to shut down for three days.
Both Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner worked on the deal that finally did reopen the government on Tuesday.
"For months, Virginia families were forced to live in dear as the fate of health care coverage for their children remained uncertain," said Warner. "While we are glad to have been part of the group that worked across the aisle to find a bipartisan solution, Congress should have never allowed political gamesmanship to jeopardize the well-being of the 66,000 children and 1,100 pregnant women in Virginia who rely on the CHIP program for doctor visits, hospital care, prescription medicines, immunizations, and regular check-ups. Today, these families can breathe a little easier knowing that they once again have the security they were promised."
“We are relieved that Congress has reached a bipartisan agreement to reauthorize CHIP, a program that 66,000 kids in Virginia rely on for care,” Kaine said. “Months of delay brought fear and uncertainty to families that depend on CHIP for care and medications for their children on a day-to-day basis. I’m glad we could be part of the solution and that these families finally get the peace of mind they deserve.”
"I want to thank Senators Warner and Kaine and the members of our congressional delegation who fought hard over the past few months to get this program, which creates opportunity for so many Virginia families, reauthorized,” said Northam.
In letters that are being sent to FAMIS families, CHIP recipients are being told their coverage will continue without interruption beyond Jan. 31. The letters also say there will be no changes to benefits.
When the time comes to renew FAMIS benefits, families will receive letters in the mail with instructions on how to renew, which must be completed on time or benefits will be lost.
If you have FAMIS or FAMIS MOMS and have more questions, call (855) 242-8282 or click here.