Dems say GOP funding measure would gut children's health

The Republicans' CR includes a provision, sponsored by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), head of the conservative Republican Study Committee, that would cut CHIP funding from $19 billion in fiscal year 2014 to $5.7 billion.

“Millions of children would lose health coverage, as a result, because it represents an astonishing 70% cut,” one children's healthcare advocate said Thursday.

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Speaking to reporters in the Capitol, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that level of cut “effectively eliminates” the program.

“This is not a healthy thing for children,” Pelosi said.

The Democrats have their own history attempting to eliminate CHIP. Under the House Democrats' initial healthcare reform bill, introduced in 2009, the CHIP program would have expired on Oct. 1, 2013, and the kids enrolled in the program would have transitioned into private plans on the state insurance exchanges.

The supporters of that plan, including Pelosi and other Democratic leaders, argued that the change would eliminate the need to renew CHIP every several years while having the additional benefit of wrapping kids and their parents into the same insurance plans.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) disagreed. The chairman of the Finance Committee's health subpanel argued that the transition would shift kids into inferior plans – or no plans at all.

Even Republicans pounced, using the Democrats' proposal to end CHIP as one of their arguments for killing the reform package altogether.

In that fight, Rockefeller won. The ACA kept CHIP intact and provided funding until Oct. 1, 2015.

Some Republicans argue that ObamaCare threatens kids in CHIP, because it would shift the lowest income CHIP beneficiaries into Medicaid under the law's Medicaid expansion.

But the healthcare advocate said that's no argument for slashing CHIP spending by 70 percent.

“It makes no sense to defund CHIP in this manner, particularly in a CR,” the advocate said in an email. “They should have exempted CHIP or repeal[ed] all of Obamacare and then recognize[d] CHIP would effectively expire and extend the funding for it in the CR.”

The House is scheduled to vote on the Republicans' CR on Friday.