“CHIP is being used as a pawn in larger debates and negotiations,” Linda Nablo, deputy director of the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services, told Robert Pear of The New York Times. “It has fallen victim to the dysfunction and partisanship in Congress. And we are getting very close to the point where some children will also be victims.” Virginia has told parents that the program will end Jan. 31 unless Congress funds it; other states have issued similar warnings.
House Republicans' plan for a short-term spending package to fund the government through Jan.19 would add $2.85 billion to CHIP for the first two quarters of next year. Advocates say that isn't enough, and "Some states have reached a critical point in their programs," Luthi reports. "The plan also includes the controversial provision that House Democrats staunchly oppose, of taking $750 million out of the Affordable Care Act's Prevention and Public Health Fund to help pay for $550 million in funding for community health centers and other programs." In the Senate, Democratic votes are needed to reach the 60-vote threshold for passage. UPDATE: The bill passed Thursday night.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a floor speech this morning, "My Republican colleagues in the Senate stand ready and eager to ensure full and long-term funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Nine million children receive coverage through CHIP. They and their parents deserve to know that Congress is committed to them. Republicans agree. We support a provision that would fund CHIP not just for a few weeks, but for five years."
Stopgap bills earlier this year allowed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to move move money "from states that currently have a surplus of funding to programs that are running out of money," Luthi reports. However, that means the surplus states will run out of money sooner. Georgetown University researchers estimates that 25 states would run out of money in January, leaving 1.9 million children uninsured. "Congress must get CHIP done before they leave for the holidays," said Joan Alker, director of the university's Center for Children and Families.