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Despite changes, House Dems still oppose CHIP bill

Despite changes, House Dems still oppose CHIP bill
© Greg Nash

House Republicans have altered legislation to extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, but the changes won’t sway Democrats, who are accusing the GOP of using a must-pass bill to gut ObamaCare.

An updated version of the legislation eliminates a provision opposed by Democrats that would have charged higher premiums to Medicare beneficiaries earning more than $500,000 a year. But in its place, the bill would cut more money from ObamaCare's public health fund.

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The bill would also shorten the grace period for ObamaCare enrollees who fail to make premium payments. According to an analysis by the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, between 259,000 and 688,000 people could lose their insurance as a result of the shortened grace period.

A Democratic aide said the changes make the bill even worse.

“It is a further example that this has become a vehicle to sabotage the Affordable Care Act,” the aide said.

The bill extends CHIP for five years and was combined with a separate bill that extends funding for community health centers for two years.

The bill will be voted on this week after Republicans and Democrats failed to reach an agreement following weeks of negotiating ways to pay for the program.

It is expected to pass on a party-line vote. Both House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and House Democratic leadership will be urging a no vote.

A GOP aide called the bill "reasonable" and "responsible."

"Chairman Walden is proud of the product passed out of the Energy and Commerce Committee," a GOP committee aide said in a statement to The Hill. "He has worked closely with Republican leadership and members of the conference to put together a responsible package that funds health care for children, extends important public health programs like community health centers, and is paid for with reasonable and responsible offsets."