House panel to consider children’s health measure

Greg Nash

Legislation to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will get a markup in the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Oct. 4, days after the program’s funding expires.

CHIP funding expires Saturday, along with funding for community health centers. The House aims to include both programs in its bill, but Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has said he wants CHIP to stand alone.

Details of the House legislation have yet to be released, and the length of the extension or any potential offsets won’t be known until early next week, a committee aide said.

{mosads}The Senate has released a bipartisan five-year bill to reauthorize the program, but there has been little discussion about how to pay for it, and a vote hasn’t been scheduled.

Most states have some leeway and won’t exhaust their money right away, but three states and the District of Columbia will run out by the end of the year.

Minnesota seems to be in the most dire situation. The state’s health department sent a letter to its congressional delegation this month warning that its funding would expire Saturday, and said it would have to take “extraordinary measures” to ensure coverage continues.

Any hope of getting a CHIP and community health center agreement done by Saturday essentially vanished when the recent push to repeal ObamaCare sucked the oxygen out of the room.

Advocacy groups have said it would be much easier if the House just takes up the Senate’s stand-alone proposal, because there’s always a temptation to weigh down CHIP with extraneous provisions.

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