The Clock is Ticking – Will Congress Act Before 1.3 Million Children and Pregnant Women Lose Coverage in California?

November 29, 2017

Congress allowed the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to expire on September 30, 2017, putting in jeopardy coverage for approximately 1.3 million children and pregnant women in California. CHIP is a health coverage program for low- and moderate-income children and pregnant women jointly funded by states and the federal government. California integrates CHIP coverage into the Medi-Cal program and uses CHIP resources to cover 25 percent of the children in Medi-Cal.[1]

CHIP in California

Approximately 13 percent of children in California are enrolled in CHIP.[2] The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) used May 2017 enrollment data to profile the state’s CHIP population and found that enrolled children are predominately Latino and live in every California county. Figures 1 and 2 show the characteristics of children enrolled in CHIP by age and ethnicity.

  • All California counties, with the exception of Alpine (7.5 percent) and Lassen (9.1 percent), have at least 10 percent of their children enrolled in CHIP.
  • Los Angeles County has the largest number of children enrolled in CHIP at 303,510, or 12.4 percent of all the children in Los Angeles County.
  • Eight counties have approximately one-fifth or more of their kids enrolled in CHIP (Santa Barbara – 18.4 percent, Sonoma – 18.5 percent, Mendocino – 19.0 percent, Monterey – 19.0 percent, Napa – 19.2 percent, Mono – 20.9 percent, Glenn – 22.8 percent, and Colusa – 30 percent.)

California and Other States Down to the Wire

This week, the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing began sending notices to CHIP enrollees advising them to start researching private health insurance options. The notice states that Colorado has funds to operate its CHIP only until January 31, 2018. The intent of the notice is to urge Colorado CHIP enrollees to be prepared in the event the federal government fails to reinstate funding before the end of January. Although California has not issued notices to CHIP families, similar to Colorado, California is expected to run out of federal CHIP funding in December or early January unless Congress acts to reinstate these funds.

According to reports, progress continues on a bipartisan proposal to fund an extension of the CHIP program. The primary point of contention among federal policymakers continues to be how to pay for the CHIP extension. (See ITUP blog on a stalled effort to develop a compromise on CHIP funding.) Reportedly, federal lawmakers are considering including the CHIP extension (and funding for other important safety-net programs) in the government spending bills scheduled for congressional action in December. Overall funding for the federal government expires on December 8 and to avoid a government shutdown, a spending bill must be passed prior to this date.

The clock is ticking to avoid both a government shutdown and the possible elimination of coverage for millions of children.


[1] Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) Research and Analytic Studies Division (RASD), “Medi-Cal Statistical Brief: Medi-Cal’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Population,” October 2017,
[2] DHCS RASD, “Medi-Cal Statistical Brief: Medi-Cal’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Population,” October 2017. All pie charts and county information was taken directly from this report.