Congress Must Act Immediately to Pass Long-Term Funding for CHIP
Yesterday marked the 100th day since Congress let funding lapse for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a critical source of health coverage for many families. Covering 9 million children nationwide, CHIP offers affordable insurance with services particularly geared to the unique health and developmental needs of children.
Federal funding for CHIP expired September 30, and Congress has yet to pass a bipartisan long-term extension of funding. Without the certainty of future funding, states are scrambling, trying to assess how long they can keep their CHIP programs going as remaining funds run out.
It is critical that Congress take immediate action on a long-term funding extension. View our recent action alert.
Short-term patches, like the one Congress passed in December, are inadequate fixes for the program. State officials are doing everything they can to keep their CHIP programs running, but the continued uncertainty is causing undue stress and strain on families. The December patch extended funding through the end of March, but many state experts envision funding to run out much sooner than that.
Over the next few weeks, Congress will be busy working out an agreement to keep the government funded past January 19 and considering additional unfinished business including disaster aid funding and a solution for Dreamers. While CHIP could be addressed in this larger agreement, it is possible that Congress will again delay action on a long-term funding extension and continue to kick CHIP down the road. This is wholly unacceptable.
Late last week, the Congressional Budget Office downwardly adjusted the CHIP score for the Senate KIDS Act (S. 1827) from $8.2 billion to $800 million due to implications stemming from the repeal of the individual mandate. This revised score makes CHIP an even bigger bargain and should clear the way for CHIP to move as quickly as possible.
CHIP has bipartisan support, and there is broad agreement that this critical children’s health program needs to be funded. It is a question of getting it done, and done in a way that doesn’t harm health coverage in other programs.
Congress needs to provide certainty to states and families and act as soon as possible on a bipartisan long-term extension. That means a bill that funds CHIP at current levels for at least 5 years. Nine million kids and their families are waiting for Congress to stop making excuses and delaying action on this essential program. They deserve security in their health coverage and they need it now.