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As CHIP Turns 25, Funding Extension Still Uncertain

December 05, 2017

This weekend, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) celebrated its 25-year anniversary in Pennsylvania. Former Governor Robert P. Casey signed the original state CHIP authorization into law on December 2, 1992. The program served as a national model, and nearly seven years later, former President Bill Clinton signed legislation that enacted CHIP across the United States.

CHIP provides comprehensive health coverage for uninsured children and teenagers (who are not eligible for Medicaid), up to age 19. CHIP provides coverage for checkups, immunizations, hospital care, and mental health services. More than 176,000 Pennsylvanians are currently enrolled in CHIP.

This past weekend, Governor Wolf, members of the Wolf administration, and state and federal legislators attended a series of events, during which they cited the success of CHIP in covering kids and called on Congress to reauthorize CHIP funding, which expired September 30. The Pennsylvania Congressional delegation has voiced the urgency of passing an extension of CHIP funding. Pennsylvania’s CHIP reserves are expected to be exhausted by early February, 2018.

The reauthorization of CHIP funding is a key priority for Congress to address before the end of the year. Congress is expected to consider a continuing resolution before the end of the week that will fund the federal government through December 22. That short-term funding bill will include a technical adjustment, championed by Congressman Ryan Costello (R, PA-06) that will allow the redistribution of available CHIP funds to cover state shortfalls. Pennsylvania received $8.4 million in emergency funding in November. With the technical correction, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will be able to provide CHIP funding to states through December 31, 2017 even if a state has already received emergency funding.

Federal lawmakers are working to enact a long term CHIP funding bill before December 22, but the prospects of passage are still uncertain. States, including Pennsylvania, have expressed serious concerns if the CHIP legislation is not enacted before the end of the year.

The U.S. House and U.S. Senate have an agreement on the underlying policy to extend CHIP for five years. The Senate Finance Committee approved bipartisan legislation—S. 1827, the Keeping Kids’ Insurance Dependable and Secure (KIDS) Act—by voice vote in early October. The House passed legislationH.R. 3922, CHAMPIONING HEALTHY KIDS Act—in early November. Despite the policy agreement, CHIP has gotten caught up in year-end negotiations.

HAP, the Pennsylvania hospital community, and health care organizations across the commonwealth have continued to advocate for Congress to provide the necessary resources to support coverage for kids. HAP has applauded the bipartisan support of Pennsylvania’s federal lawmakers and supports them in urging Congressional leaders to enact CHIP funding as soon as possible.

HAP will keep members apprised of developments related to CHIP funding. For more information about HAP’s federal advocacy, please contact Laura Stevens Kent, vice president, federal advocacy.

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