Senators announce bipartisan extension of children's health program

Senators announce bipartisan extension of children's health program
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The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) could be extended for five years under an agreement whose terms were first announced by Senate Finance Committee leaders Tuesday night.

Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOvernight Finance: NAFTA defenders dig in | Tech pushes Treasury to fight EU on taxes | AT&T faces setback in merger trial | Dems make new case against Trump tax law | Trump fuels fight over gas tax What sort of senator will Mitt Romney be? Not a backbencher, even day one Lawmaker interest in NAFTA intensifies amid Trump moves MORE (R-Utah) and ranking Democrat Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare Grassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees MORE (Ore.) said the proposal would also provide additional protections for low-income children and flexibility for states.

According to a Senate aide, the five-year extension includes a gradual reduction in enhanced federal matching funds that were first included in the Affordable Care Act, beginning in 2020. Republicans have objected to that enhanced funding, which means that 12 states don't contribute anything to what is supposed to be a joint state-federal program. 
The gradual phaseout will give those states time to adjust their budgets.
But questions still remain about whether the legislation will pass as a stand-alone bill, or if additional provisions, such as a bipartisan ObamaCare stabilization bill, will be attached. Lawmakers have an extremely narrow window to get the deal passed and sent to President Trump. 

Federal funding for the program, which provides care for 9 million low- and middle-income children, is set to expire at the end of September.

The members said full legislative language will be released in the coming days. Should the proposal pass the Senate, the House will also need to vote on it before the Sept. 30 deadline.

“We will continue to work to advance this agreement in a way that does not add to the deficit, and I am hopeful we can move forward swiftly to ensure no lapse in care for our nation’s most vulnerable children,” Hatch said in a statement.

A two-year CHIP reauthorization passed in April 2015, months before the program was set to expire, and the provision was included in a larger Medicare reform package.

Children’s health advocates have repeatedly called for a five-year extension because it would provide the most stability during an uncertain time in health care.