There has been no progress on moving a CHIP reauthorization and movement in the Senate was almost impossible this week as the Senate Finance Committee was tied up with the tax package this week. CMS has reallocated a total $600 million to patch up current state shortfalls but that doesn’t relieve state policymakers’ uncertainty without a clear path to extension in the Congress.

As reported earlier, the House of Representatives passed their version of a CHIP reauthorization by a largely partisan vote. The bill (HR 3922) extends CHIP for five years. Democrats are opposing this version of the bill because of the way it is paid for.

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. 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.

Two weeks ago West Virginia acted to close CHIP enrollment at the end of February if Congress has not acted by then. As part of that the state will notify enrollees and providers in January of the action. At the same time, Texas officials issued a letter to key congressional leaders that 400,000 children will begin to receive notices as early as December 1 if Congress does not act.