The state of Colorado began warning residents Monday that a health insurance program for children will cease operations next month if Congress fails to approve funding for it.
While Colorado's warning is dire, the state's Children's Health Plan Plus program actually has enough money in its coffers to continue operations through Jan. 31, even as Congress drags its feet on renewing funding.
Other states are not so lucky — and are even closer to running out of cash to operate their own programs that had received funding from the federal Children's Health Insurance Program.
Almost 9 million kids are currently covered by CHIP, along with about 370,000 pregnant women. CHIP, which had cost about $15 billion annually in federal funding, provides health benefits to low-income children who do not otherwise qualify for Medicaid.
Nearly a dozen states are preparing to join Colorado in alerting enrollees in their kids' health program that CHIP funding is on the verge of running out.
Governing.com reported Monday that Minnesota appears to be the first state to actually run out of CHIP funds. But the state will tap $35 million of its own money to keep its program going for several weeks.
While CHIP is popular across political lines, authorization for spending on the 20-year-old program expired at the end of September.
Since then, Congress has been unable to agree on a deal that would newly authorize $75 billion in CHIP spending for the next five years.
Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Minnesota, Ohio and Oregon are on track to drain their kids' health program by the end of 2017 or in early January, according to Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families.
And in addition to Colorado, five other states will run of CHIP money by January or February: Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington.
The majority of states are "projected to exhaust funding by March 2018," the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a letter on Nov. 9.
That letter also said that states would have to transition CHIP enrollees to Medicaid or notify customers that they should apply for Obamacare coverage.
On Monday, Colorado health officials sent out letters to enrollees urging them to begin researching their options for obtaining private health insurance in the event that Congress doesn't approve new funding.
More than 75,000 children in Colorado and almost 800 pregnant women are covered by the program, which is available to low- and middle-income families.