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Congressional Bills Take Varied Approaches to CHIP Funding Renewal

Posted by Anulkah Thomas, Health Coverage Policy Analyst on March 16th, 2015
Photo credit flickr user guilherme jofili (CC BY 2.0)

In a previous Health Matters article, Community Health Councils reported that funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expires September 2015 although the program is authorized to run through 2019.  Given that California, like most states, must finalize its 2015-16 budget by the end of June, our state legislators currently have insufficient information to plan the coming fiscal year’s healthcare allocations.   

Until recently, it was anticipated that CHIP funding reauthorization would be attached to legislation concerning the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR), a formula that determines the Medicare rate for physician payments and is generally regarded as legislation that must be finalized by the end of March 2015. However, in mid-February, House and Senate Democrats introduced companion bills, H.R.919 and S.522, calling for an additional four years of CHIP funding.  Though the bills are not identical they both seek to preserve important features of CHIP such as a 23% increase in the federal match rate effective October 2015, additional funding for states that exhaust their allotted funds, the extension of performance incentives, and continued outreach funding. 

Less than two weeks later, Republican members of Congress released a draft bill that would extend funding for an unspecified amount of time, eliminate the 23% rate increase, cease coverage for children with family incomes over 300% of the federal poverty level (FPL), and no longer require states to continue covering children with family incomes under income levels presently in effect. Community Health Councils and other advocacy groups are troubled by this bill, which would strip the program of many of the attributes that allowed it to halve the nation’s rate of uninsured children since its 1997 inception. 

For more information, please contact Community Health Councils’ Policy Analyst, Anulkah Thomas at anulkah@chc-inc.org.

Posted in 2015