Yesterday, four days after funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expired, Congress finally moved on getting it reauthorized. CHIP currently provides health coverage for nine million children in the United States. The Senate Finance Committee passed a bipartisan agreement, Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce ran into trouble with their version of the legislation.
After a seven-hour hearing, with lots of back and forth between Republicans and Democrats, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the bill by a vote of 28-23 along party lines. The Democrats objected to the bill’s funding plan, which would increase Medicare premiums on seniors earning more than $500,000 a year, saying CHIP shouldn’t be financed though Medicare cuts. Republicans maintained that their CHIP budget is reasonable.
Prior to that, the Senate Finance Committee enjoyed strong bipartisan support and advanced its version of the bill with a voice vote — of the 14 Senators present, who represented both sides of the aisle, there was one objection.
Approval for CHIP reauthorization will happen eventually. However, the delay in Congress has created uncertainty at the local level, where states need to make decisions about their own budgets. An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 11 states will exhaust their CHIP funding by the end of this year without federal funding, leaving some children without coverage.
ANA expects each chamber’s bill will continue to advance toward the floor. Ultimately, the motivation to pass CHIP reauthorization remains strong. Much of the negotiation between House and Senate Democrats and Republicans will center on how to pay for the legislation. The House and the Senate will have to figure out a plan to fund the legislation before it goes to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
The Kaiser Family Foundation has created a great side-by-side comparison of the Senate and House bills.
ANA will continue to monitor progress on CHIP closely.