Congress Approves CR but Fails to Pass Long-Term CHIP Funding

As Cathy Hope forecast in an earlier blog today, Congress passed a short-term continuing resolution (CR) today that will keep the government funded through January 19, 2018. The bill also includes a small amount of additional funding for CHIP, but it falls woefully short.

Unlike the last CR, which as SayAhhh! readers already know simply robbed Peter to pay Paul, this CR adds $2.85 billion. Crisis averted? I wish. While some have said the CR funds CHIP for 6 months – from October 1, 2017 through March 31, 2018 – the numbers tell a different story.

The federal government spends about $14.5 billion on CHIP each year. So half a years’ funding would be in the neighborhood of $7.25 billion. I’m no math whiz but I can see that $2.85 billion is not enough. States will continue to spend their time and money planning for the end of CHIP. And families will continue to question whether their children’s coverage will end this month or next.

With bipartisan and bicameral agreement on a 5-year CHIP funding deal, it’s not at all clear why we find ourselves here today. My best guess is that politics came first, not people. What a disappointing way to end the year.

Kelly Whitener is an Associate Professor of the Practice at the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy’s Center for Children and Families.