Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expired on September 30, and the health coverage of nearly 9 million is currently at risk.

After reaching a bipartisan agreement on policy that extend CHIP for five years, due to the health care fights over repealing the ACA, attention shifted from CHIP and now due to the lack of agreement on offsets, an extension of CHIP funding is nearly three weeks past due despite that bipartisan agreement on CHIP policy.

The Senate bill, S. 1827, the KIDS Act, introduced by Chairman Hatch and Ranking Member Wyden, would provide approximately $120 billion in funding for children’s health coverage for five years.

In the CHIP mark-up a few weeks ago in the Senate, Senator Patrick Toomey (R-PA) expressed deep concerned about how billions of dollars in unspent CHIP dollars (these are necessary reserve funds that may carry over from one fiscal year to the next) were used to allow flexibility in the spending caps for the Labor-HHS appropriations.    Because CHIP is a quasi-block grant, the overall funding level must be set at a rate high enough that funding for the program does not cause any single state to reach shortfall in a fiscal year. Before that change was made in CHIP financing, state CHIP programs routinely faced shortfalls and that caused many instances in the past when emergency appropriations were added to protect state CHIP programs.

Other Senators also expressed concern about the issue and it really comes down to a debate over technical appropriations flexibility and jurisdiction.  The Toomey efforts could weaken the program and add to the unnecessary delay already caused with the failure to reauthorize CHIP on time.

CHIP advocates are urging the children’s community to make passage of the bipartisan policies in the House and Senate bills, which would CHIP for five years, to be our priority