Week ahead: Lawmakers near deal on children's health funding

Week ahead: Lawmakers near deal on children's health funding
© Greg Nash

The government is hurtling toward a Friday funding deadline, with important implications for a slew of health-care items.

The coming week could finally see lawmakers agree on extending the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), after months of partisan bickering over how to pay for it.

The breakthrough came when the Congressional Budget Office drastically lowered its cost estimate for the measure, so that it will actually save money if extended for long enough.

"If we go to six years, it may have no cost," House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenHammond pardons raise fears of emboldened anti-government extremists Oregon ranchers pardoned by Trump fly home on Pence donor's private jet Overnight Energy: Trump pardons ranchers whose case sparked standoff | EPA takes step to replace Obama climate rule | Pruitt's lead spokesman out at EPA MORE (R-Ore.) told reporters Wednesday. "The good news is you can do six years and it costs you nothing."

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Members in both parties say that change means the extension could move next week, though it depends on broader leadership negotiations over a spending package. There is still some uncertainty over what legislation CHIP reauthorization will be attached to and how long the extension will be.

Walden has proposed a six-year extension, while Democrats are pushing for a longer period, even floating a permanent extension.

Other health-care issues are more contentious.

Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderSens introduce bipartisan bill matching Zinke proposed maintenance backlog fix Supreme Court vacancy throws Senate battle into chaos Overnight Health Care: Anti-abortion groups see chance to overturn Roe v. Wade with Kennedy retirement | HHS watchdog to probe detention center conditions | VA pick vows to oppose privatization MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayTop Dems urge Trump officials to reverse suspension of ObamaCare payments Dems launch pressure campaign over migrant families Jane Fonda: Kavanaugh confirmation would be a 'catastrophe' MORE (D-Wash.) are pushing ahead with talks on their bipartisan bill aimed at stabilizing ObamaCare markets.

Murray is pushing for changes now that Republicans have repealed ObamaCare's individual mandate, but has not detailed what those are.

The measure is not expected to be attached to a short-term spending bill next week, but Alexander is pushing for it to be attached to a long-term funding bill once a deal is reached on that.

Industry groups are pushing for repeal or delay of ObamaCare taxes, such as the health insurance tax, medical device tax and "Cadillac tax" on high-cost insurance plans.

It is possible those measures could be added to a funding bill as well as lawmakers work to reach a deal.

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