Express Lane Stays Open for Another Year (and other extensions)

It’s been a while since we checked in on efforts to extend some expiring CHIPRA provisions and other important programs for children. The most viable legislative vehicle for these “extenders” in recent years has been the Medicare payment fix (i.e. Sustainable Growth Rate, or so-called “Doc Fix” ). Say Ahhh! readers may remember that the late December budget deal extended SGR along with a few key Medicaid provisions until March 31, 2014.

With no time to spare, leadership in both chambers agreed to a year-long patch that passed the House last week, cleared the Senate Monday evening, and has been signed by the President.  The measure will extend a number of provisions child health advocates have been watching:

–       CHIPRA’s Express Lane Eligibility (ELE, CHIPRA Section 203), currently authorized through September 2014, through September 2015 (notably now in line with the deadline to reauthorize CHIP funding).

–       Transitional Medical Assistance (TMA under SSA 1925) through March 2015.

–       Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) at current funding levels through March 2015.

Family-to-Family Health Information Centers through September 2015 at current funding levels.

–       Additional funding ($15 million) for CHIPRA pediatric quality measures (CHIPRA Section 401), which expired in September 2013.

We remain disappointed that Congress has not extended CHIPRA’s performance bonuses, which expired last September, but are breathing a huge sigh of relief that Express Lane Eligibility is still at work helping to connect children to coverage.

Elisabeth Wright Burak is a Senior Fellow at the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy’s Center for Children and Families.