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 HatchFinance to hold hearing on ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea Week ahead in finance: Clock ticking for GOP on tax reform MORE (R-Utah) and ranking Democrat Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Finance to hold hearing on ObamaCare repeal bill 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. 
 
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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.