The House attached an earlier CHIP reauthorization on their latest CR—a CR that is likely to fall flat. The House bill is similar to a CHIP reauthorization that passed earlier this fall by a largely partisan vote. The bill (HR 3922) extends CHIP for five years. Democrats opposed the bill because of the way it is paid for. The House bill would pay for CHIP extension by cutting a health care prevention fund established under the ACA and by raising premiums for higher income Medicare patients. Taking such revenue out of the Medicare program for alternate purposes is a non-starter for many members of Congress.
More states are starting to send out notices (Virginia last week) advising families that the program may end early next year if Congress fails to act. In the end it adds to the growing numbers of families that may be worrying during this holiday season about what the New Year may mean for them and their families (see DACA article).
On Tuesday, groups led by First Focus are holding a Capitol Hill briefing (see below) on the importance of CHIP. CWLA joined with groups in support of a CHIP reauthorization. In addition groups are collecting stories. A copy of the letter is available here, and groups can sign on here and individuals can sign on here. DEADLINE IS MONDAY MORNING at 9:00 AM.
It is unclear what the Senate will use as an offset if they use one. Earlier this month Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, assured it would get done but then went on to argue that there is no money to pay for it.
CHIP is funded by mandatory funds and does not require an annual appropriation, but it does need to be reauthorized every few (usually five) years. In recent years the law has provided some reserve funds to prevent unexpected shortfalls for the 50 states. The CR that runs to December 22 includes some ability for HHS to patch over states that are falling short. CHIP has had bipartisan reauthorizations in its 17 year-plus history. It has never experienced this difficulty in getting an extension. It adds another example of the difficulty human service block grants face.