House Votes to Extend CHIP Funding Without Bipartisan Agreement on Offsets

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to extend Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding along with other health care provisions in the Championing Healthy Kids Act (wait for it…the Community Health and Medicaid Professionals Improve Our Nation, Increase National Gains, and Help Ensure Access for Little Ones, Toddlers and Hopeful Youth by Keeping Insurance Delivery Stable Act of 2017). The bill passed on a 242 – 174 vote.

The bill’s CHIP provisions reflect what originally passed out the House Energy and Commerce in September in the Healthy Kids Act. It was amended to the Champion Act, which extends funding for public health programs including community health centers, special diabetes programs, and family-to-family health information centers.

Although the vote was expected to go largely along party lines, 3 Republicans voted against and 15 Democrats voted for the combined bills. Unfortunately, the Championing Healthy Kids Act includes the partisan offsets for CHIP and other programs that threaten passage in the Senate.

While children’s advocates are pleased to see action on CHIP, it is disappointing that the House has been unable to work across the aisle to find bipartisan offsets to extend funding for critical coverage and public health initiatives that are supported on a bipartisan basis. Here’s what a couple of children’s health organizations have to say about the bill:  American Academy of Pediatrics and First Focus statements.

It has been more than a month since CHIP funding expired. And this month, we expect several states to begin sending notices to families, including Arizona and Colorado. As we discussed in our recent CHIP paper on the consequences of Congressional inaction, notices – even if later rescinded – will have a chilling effect on enrollment. The ensuing unwelcome mat effect will start to unravel the nation’s success in covering more than 95 percent of children if Congress continues to fail to get a CHIP funding bill through both the House and Senate and signed into law by the President.

Tricia Brooks
Tricia Brooks is a Research Professor at the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy’s Center for Children and Families