Report: 23,980 children in RGV covered by Children's Health Insurance Program
By the end of Feb. 2018, 400,000 children in the state of Texas could be without government subsidized health insurance through the Children's Health Insurance Program, also known as CHIP.
"You have counties along the Texas-Mexico border where three quarters of the children are enrolled in either Medicaid or CHIP," said Anne Dunkelberg, Associate Director for Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities.
CHIP is different from Medicaid, in which families who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but still don't make enough money to afford paying for private health insurance through an employer for their kids.
In the meantime, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is giving Texas $135 million to continue the program through February. After that, CHIP will no longer receive funding from the federal government.
"The alternative is, do we pay bills, our gas, our light, or do we buy medication?" said Diana Martínez from McAllen.
Since the cost of living is low in the Rio Grande Valley, many families make a lower income and many qualify for either Medicaid or CHIP. In the Rio Grande Valley, there are a total of 23,980 children who are under CHIP in Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy counties, according to the Center for Public Policy Priorities.
Rep. Filemón Vela (D-Brownsville) is trying to keep CHIP funding for Texas. But, Vela said Republicans want to condition those cuts to Medicare.
"What the Republicans are trying to do with CHIP and Community Health Centers is very much what they're doing with the Republican health plan and is to take from one program to give to another and they're just moving the ball around," Vela said.
Vela said Democrats are waiting for a Senate version that will give authorization for CHIP without conditions that slash Medicare for senior citizens.