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Monday, September 11, 2017

Congress Must Pass CHIP Funding Soon

Time is running out for Congress to pass legislation that should be easy: extending funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). If Congress doesn’t act to extend CHIP funding, health coverage for 9 million children will be in jeopardy.

What Congress must do to prevent millions of children from losing health coverage is clear: Pass a “clean” funding bill that extends CHIP funding for five years.

CHIP gives families an affordable option for health insurance

CHIP provides an affordable coverage option, with a benefits package specifically tailored to children, for families with modest incomes that earn too much for Medicaid. View our new fact sheet for details about CHIP's effectiveness. Today, CHIP covers nearly 9 million children. Funding for the program expires on September 30, 2017. 

There are several reasons extending CHIP funding should be easy. 

  1. The CHIP program has enjoyed bipartisan support since it was enacted in 1997. 
     
  2. CHIP has made a huge difference in children’s health. CHIP is one of the main reasons that the rate of uninsured children in the U.S. is at an historic low—95 percent of children are insured. 
     
  3. CHIP works. It gives families an affordable coverage option that covers the benefits kids need. Coverage in private plans or the marketplace would cost families more and likely cover fewer of the services children need to grow and thrive.   

Extending CHIP funding is not something Congress can put off. While there is some funding states will be able to use past the end of September when funding expires, by the start of 2018 most states will be out of CHIP funds. That means that for millions of children covered by CHIP, continued coverage will be at risk. 

There is a clear path forward that can give Congress a bipartisan win and protect children’s health care.

Congress must extend CHIP funding through fiscal year 2022, with a “clean” CHIP funding bill  

Congress should not delay passing a “clean” CHIP funding bill. That means a bill that doesn’t make structural changes to CHIP, include rollbacks of funding or income eligibility requirements, and certainly doesn’t attach changes to other programs, like Medicaid or the ACA, as part of process. 

This recommendation is consistent with recommendations from the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC)—the nonpartisan legislative branch agency that makes recommendations on Medicaid and CHIP to Congress and HHS.

A five-year extension will ensure financial stability for states and for families. Short-term funding extensions make it hard for states to plan and repeatedly put kids’ coverage in question.

Passing a clean CHIP funding extension is an opportunity for members of Congress to pass bipartisan legislation and show their support for children’s health. 

In 2015, Congress was able to come together and do this under President Obama, passing a two-year extension. It is time to do it again—quickly—and this time do it with a bill that will put CHIP on solid fiscal footing for even longer.