Good News for Kids: Bipartisan Support for CHIP Emerging in Congress

Since CHIP’s inception it has been described as a bipartisan program with support from both Republicans and Democrats at both the state and federal levels. In a time of intense partisanship in health policy, whether this would hold true as Congress considered the extension of CHIP funding this year was an open question.

As readers of SayAhhh! know, it is imperative for Congress to move quickly on extending CHIP funding so that states and families have the budget certainty and peace of mind to know that their children’s health coverage will be there come October 1st. An emerging bipartisan deal in the House suggests that this hope may be realized – which would be terrific news for the nation’s children.

Driving the train here is a desire by leaders in both parties to fix the problem of cuts in Medicare payments to doctors – the so-called SGR fix. Bill language has not yet been released on the House package but here is what we know that is relevant to children. House leaders Boehner and Pelosi and key committee chairs have agreed to a compromise that appears to extend the current CHIP program as is, with no harmful changes as proposed by the Hatch-Upton-Pitts proposal, for two years. And reports are that the proposal includes NO harmful offsets to Medicaid, CHIP or the ACA in the package. That’s a huge relief for kids.

If this deal comes together, the bill will move very quickly in the House, with leaders aiming to bring this to the floor as soon as possible. If the bill passes the House, the action will move to the Senate – where, in more good news for kids, Senate Democrats continue to push for a four-year clean extension of CHIP. Four years of this vital program would provide even more peace of mind for families and stability for states going forward.

Joan Alker is the Executive Director of the Center for Children and Families and a Research Professor at the Georgetown McCourt School of Public Policy.