Funding Bill Could Provide Short-Term CHIP Relief

December 5, 2017

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Source: The Hill

The legislation to fund the government for two weeks could also provide some short-term relief to help states keep their Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) afloat.

The bill, which would fund the government through Dec. 22, would temporarily lift certain spending constraints to allow states to get more money for CHIP from the federal government.

Without action from Congress, the government will run out of money Friday.

The policy was first mentioned by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden(R-Ore.) last week.

Congress let federal funding for CHIP expire on Sept. 30. As a result, a number of states are running low on money for the program and have asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for help.

CMS has been awarding millions in unused money to states in need for the past two months. CHIP is jointly funded by states and the federal government.

A provision in the funding bill would make it easier for states to receive leftover money from CMS. There are restrictions on the amount of unused funds a state can get, but the bill would lift those through Dec. 31.

The House has already passed legislation for a five-year extension of CHIP, along with funding for community health centers, but Democrats objected to how the bill was paid for.

The Senate Finance Committee passed a CHIP extension bill but did not say how it would be paid for.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Sunday said a CHIP provision will be included in the second year-end spending bill later this month.

“We need to make sure the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which is expiring, gets to panel before the end of the year,” McConnell said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“We have another supplemental for Puerto Rico, and for Florida, and for Texas. All of that will be in this package that we’ll [be] dealing with at some point here in the next couple of weeks.”

Democrats and advocates had been pushing to include a CHIP extension in the first short-term government funding bill, to avoid it being caught up in the politics of the longer-term bill.

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