There has been no progress on CHIP reauthorization but there was a lot of talk.

There was a debate on the Senate floor when Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said that CHIP would get done because “I invented it. I was the one who wrote it… Kennedy came over and became the one who helped put it through.” He said it would get through but there wasn’t any money. The Senator went on to say he had problems spending billion and billions and trillions of dollars.

The debate (with Senator Sherrod Brown, D-OH) took place against the backdrop of the tax debate which according to CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation says it does increase the deficit by over $1 trillion even after economic growth is considered. Hatch assured he would get CHIP done.

At the same time Colorado became the first state that sent out notices last week notifying CHIP families that the funding could end soon. The notice told families that they are ok through the end of this month but if Congress fails to act the program will end for them on January 31, 2018. The letter also instructed families on how they can get updates on the CHIP status by going online. Virginia is another state with a notice in the works with the intent of ending the program by the end of January if the Congress fails to act.

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. CHIP has had bipartisan reauthorizations in its 17 year-plus history.

Late last month Oregon announced it was temporarily moving some Medicaid funds around. Such patch works for states may not be sufficient since it limits states ability to maintain coverage and that can rattle the very families whose children are dependent on the health care coverage.

 

About the Author:

John Sciamanna is CWLA's Vice President of Public Policy.

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