CHIP Reauthorization Deadline Passes, Congress Still Yet to Vote
Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which currently provides comprehensive health coverage to roughly 9 million children and pregnant women, expired on September 30. While reauthorization bills have been discussed in both the House and the Senate, none have yet been passed. States are now working to cover the program’s entire cost without federal support until Congress approves reauthorization and President Trump signs it into law.
PROPOSALS IN THE WORKS
Last week, a bipartisan proposal (S.1827) that would extend funding for CHIP for five years was passed by the Senate Finance Committee, and awaits a vote by the whole chamber. “As we know, federal CHIP funding expired last week,” said Senator Orrin Hatch (R- UT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “And while states and DC have funding leftover to help them get into FY18, it is still paramount that we act quickly both here in committee and through the next steps in the process to ensure eligible children do not go uninsured once federal funding is exhausted.”
A similar bill in the House has stalled following Democratic pushback to some mechanisms introduced by Republicans that would take money from the Affordable Care Act and charge higher premiums to certain Medicare recipients to offset costs. House Energy and Commerce Chairman, Greg Walden (R-OR), has delayed floor consideration of the bill “in hopes of reaching a bipartisan agreement on offsets.”
Any differences between the House and Senate versions of CHIP reauthorization legislation must be reconciled via conference committee before being sent to President Trump for his signature.
MEANWHILE, IN THE STATES
According to recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the majority of states will run out of funding for CHIP by March 2018, with some exhausting their resources as early as this month.
Minnesota and Utah are two states that will be hard-pressed to continue their programs under current conditions now that federal funding has lapsed. These states will have to take “extraordinary measures” to continue providing coverage, or may choose to drop coverage for pregnant women altogether. The more time that passes before Congress reaches a decision, the more states will have to rethink their CHIP programs, and potentially drop important provisions for our nation’s children.