House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced the House would vote on its legislation to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), HR 3921. That announcement drew the ire of minority Democrats.
Funding for CHIP expired on September 30, and the health coverage of nearly 9 million is currently at risk. In fact Congressman McCarthy held up the fate of one state, Minnesota, as the reason for the vote saying they state was running out of CHIP funds. Minnesota is not alone and several states are preparing to take action to notify families of the potential loss. The House bill is not supported by Democrats because of the offsets are funded by cuts to parts of the ACA and changes to Medicare and Medicaid. Democrats denounced the scheduled vote since it is not on what is considered a bipartisan bill.
The Senate bill, S. 1827, the KIDS Act, introduced by Senator Hatch and Ranking Member Wyden, would provide approximately $120 billion in funding for children’s health coverage for five years. The Senate has not indicated how they would pay for their version.
CHIP is funded by mandatory funds and does not require an annual appropriations but it does need to be reauthorized every few years. In recent years the law has provided some reserve funds to prevent unexpected shortfalls for the 50 states. Some members of Congress have used this reserve fund as an excuse to not extend the program by its September 30 expiration date. They argued states can carry on until Congress gets around to an extension late this year. That is not the case however. Some states are precariously close to running out and they have never been placed in this position as CHIP has had bipartisan reauthorizations in its 17 year-plus history.