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CHIP Funded in Deal to Reopen the Government; Outstanding Priorities Remain Unresolved

January 22, 2018

Congress has included a six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as part of a legislative package that reopens the government after a two-and-a-half day federal government shutdown, and sets February 8 as the next deadline for Congressional action.

Despite strong bipartisan support—particularly from the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation—CHIP funding has been subject to short-term patches since funding expired in October 2017. This long-term measure will provide certainty for more than 180,000 Pennsylvania families that rely on CHIP for affordable health insurance.

HAP has joined health care provider groups from across the commonwealth in vigorously advocating for a long-term funding certainty for CHIP which, along with Medicaid, has contributed to 95 percent of Pennsylvania children having health insurance coverage.

A letter to the Pennsylvania Delegation last week expressed the unified voice of health care providers serving Pennsylvania patients and families that Congress should immediately act “on a series of health care policy matters that are essential to maintaining access to health insurance coverage and care for Pennsylvania families.”

Of importance to the hospital community, outstanding issues that necessitate swift action include:

  • Extension of the Medicare Dependent Hospital (MDH) program and Low-Volume (LV) Payment Adjustment
  • Funding for community health centers (CHC)
  • Permanent relief from the therapy caps
  • Delay in cuts to the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital payments
  • Reversal of the new payment program impacting certain 340B hospitals
  • Market stabilization policies

Small and rural hospitals in Pennsylvania depend on MDH and LV payments to preserve access to care in the face of challenging dynamics—smaller number of beds, fewer admissions, and patients and communities with older demographics. These programs are a vital element of stability for rural providers in Pennsylvania. The prolonged uncertainty resulting from the lapse of MDH and LV funding, as of October 1, 2017, is weighing heavily on participating hospitals.

Similarly, more than 300 CHC sites, which provide care to one in 16 Pennsylvanians in 52 counties across the state, are under stress as a result of Congress’s inaction to restore CHC funding on a long-term basis.

The Congressional agreement reached today provides a three-week extension of funding for the federal government, and would also delay the Affordable Care Act’s medical device and Cadillac taxes for two years and health insurance tax for one year.

The federal government shutdown resulted from Congress’ struggle to negotiate over-all spending caps for the military and domestic discretionary programs and come to a policy agreement on how to address Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and border security. 

Leading up to the February 8 deadline, HAP will advocate for Congress to address key health care priorities that provide certainty in access to care for Pennsylvania patients and stability for health care providers. 

Please contact Laura Stevens Kent, HAP's vice president, federal advocacy, with questions.

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