House passes bill to fund children’s insurance program
Legislation to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for five years passed the House on Friday over the objections of Democrats, who oppose how the legislation is paid for.
The bill passed 242-174. It now heads to the Senate, where it is unlikely to get a floor vote, leaving lawmakers at an impasse.
The Senate Finance Committee passed its own version of the legislation, but has yet to agree on offsets to fund it.
The House bill would charge higher premiums to wealthier Medicare beneficiaries, cut money from ObamaCare’s public health fund and 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.
Democrats have accused the GOP of using a must-pass bill to gut ObamaCare.
“This Republican bill offers a false choice,” Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) said. “In one hand it strips health care away from upwards of 680-thousand Americans and guts the Prevention Fund … and then in the other hand it reauthorizes these important programs.”
The bill would extend CHIP for five years and was combined with a separate bill that extends funding for community health centers for two years. It also provides $1 billion over two years to help bolster Medicaid in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The bill passed the Energy and Commerce Committee without any Democratic support, but the panel’s chairman, Greg Walden (R-Ore.), delayed bringing the measure to floor in the hope of trying to find a bipartisan agreement.
Walden on Friday called Democratic opposition “ironic and cynical” because Democrats have previously supported using the public health fund as an offset for other bills.
“It is a tragedy this is not a bipartisan bill, as it always has been,” Walden said.
Funding for CHIP and the community health center program expired Sept. 30, and some states have already requested emergency money from the federal government.