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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

Democrats, Republicans Take Different Approach to CHIP Reauthorization

February 26, 2015 | Children and Youth | Medicaid | Comments
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The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is set to expire in October and members from both sides of the aisle have offered solutions as to how to extend it beyond 2015. These solutions offer differing timeframes of reauthorization; maintain or eliminate different pieces of the program; and propose different requirements of states for whom to offer health coverage. House and Senate Democrats have officially introduced legislation while House and Senate Republicans have released a draft bill, welcoming comments from stakeholders.

The House and Senate Democrat versions extend CHIP through 2019. The House version, the CHIP Extension and Improvement Act, maintains the 23 percent enhanced match and maintenance of effort provision and provides a permanent state option for Express Lane Eligibility. The Senate version, Protecting & Retaining Our Children’s Health Insurance Program Act (PRO-CHIP), extends those provisions as well as extends performance incentives. To qualify for payments under the program, sates must implement four out of the eight criteria, including: continuous eligibility for children, express lane eligibility, presumptive eligibility for children, premium assistance, elimination of waiting periods, automated cost-sharing, real-time eligibility determinations and elimination of premiums or lock-out periods.

The Republican draft legislation maintains the current CHIP allotment formula, eliminating the 23 percent ACA increase otherwise slated to take effect in FY 2016. The bill reins in CHIP spending, reducing – and in some cases eliminating – coverage for those with incomes above 100 percent of the federal poverty level. Additionally, the draft legislation authorizes states to establish waiting periods (no more than 12 months) for families who have private insurance and ensures state-funded programs that provide CHIP-equivalent coverage count as minimum essential coverage pursuant to the ACA.

In support of maintaining health insurance coverage for more than eight million children, the National Council recently signed on to a letter with more than 1,500 patient protection and advocacy organizations urging the swift reauthorization of the CHIP Program.  “Congress must act quickly to stabilize the CHIP funding stream to ensure that states can continue to operate their programs without interruption. Health coverage for millions of children could be disrupted if CHIP’s future is not secured,” the letter reads.

Be sure to stay tuned to Capitol Connector for more news on the reauthorization of CHIP.