By mid-week House Republicans were throwing cold water on the idea that they would move the CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) before the fiscal year and the authorization ran out.
The debate and chance to act on CHIP by October 1, were thrown off when the Senate engaged in another ACA-repeal effort.
On Monday, September 18, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) released their bill to extend CHIP for five years. The Keeping Kids’ Insurance Dependable and Secure (KIDS) Act (S. 1827), would largely maintain the program as is with an overtime reduction in the enhanced match. The ACA debate delayed any action or talk and the Senate is really where most of the interest had been the greatest.
The first sign of trouble for an October 1, renewal came on the House floor debate over a rule. Democrats were told that the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR.) was not convinced that CHIP could not survive beyond the expiration date of September 30. Some have argued states can stretch current funding while states and advocates are concerned about critical outreach and planning is threatened by the lack of funding and uncertainty created by a delayed reauthorization.
There are some other programs that need extension such as the community health centers program but Republican leaders view that funding in the same way. The hope had been that CHIP would get done by October 1 and it might carry some other reauthorizations but now some are saying the extensions may not happen until as late as December when Congress is likely to be in a jam to clean up must-pass end-of-the year legislation.
The Senate should want to act soon since they expect to spend their time on tax cuts. Plus, Finance Committee Chair Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is one of the fathers of CHIP.
In releasing the bill, Senator Hatch said, “Introducing this legislation is an important next step toward ensuring uninterrupted funding for CHIP, providing much-needed certainty for the vulnerable children and families who rely on this critical program for health coverage. I look forward to continuing our efforts to develop a smart and fiscally responsible solution. Working with my colleagues in both the Senate and House, we will push to advance this initiative and ensure the continued healthcare coverage for American children.”
Finance Committee Ranking Member Senator Ron Wyden said, “This strong, bipartisan CHIP bill ensures that children and their families will have good health care and states will have the certainty they need for years to come. I look forward to working with Chairman Hatch and members on both sides of the aisle to focus on this bipartisan priority and move it through Congress as quickly as possible.”