Connecticut officials have pushed back their deadline to end health care coverage for more than 17,000 children and teenagers to Feb. 28 because of partial funding approved by Congress before Christmas.

Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, expired on Sept. 30.

Connecticut, and most other states, have kept the program, known as HUSKY B in Connecticut, going by using unspent funds from the past two years. In Connecticut, that money was projected to run out on Jan. 31.

In the middle of December, state officials sent notices to all HUSKY B families, letting them know that the program would end on Jan. 31, unless Congress acted.

Before leaving for holiday break, Congress did act. Federal lawmakers approved a stopgap spending bill that provides $2.85 billion to states like Connecticut that were running out of money for CHIP.

As a result, state officials announced Friday that the program will end on Feb. 28 — not Jan. 31 — unless Congress approves more funding.

The state also plans to reopen enrollment next week for HUSKY B after it stopped taking new applications on Dec. 23 because of the previous inaction by Congress.

State officials will send letters to affected families next week, notifying them of the new end date.

CHIP is funded largely through federal dollars, with a smaller contribution – 12 percent — paid by the state. It covers children whose families earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid, providing health care for children in families of four earning up to $79,458 a year.

Currently, higher-income families pay a small premium each month, a maximum of $30 for one child and $50 for two or more children. A family of four that makes less than $62,485 is not required to make these payments.

Mackenzie is a former health reporter at CT Mirror. Prior to her time at CT Mirror, she covered health care, social services and immigration for the News-Times in Danbury and has more than a decade of reporting experience. She traveled to Uganda for the News-Times to report an award-winning five-part series about a Connecticut doctor's experience in Africa. A native of upstate New York, she started her journalism career at The Recorder in Greenfield, Mass., and worked at Newsday on Long Island for three years. She is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where she wrote her master's thesis about illegal detentions in Haiti's women's prison.

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