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GOP chairman: CHIP must be attached to next funding bill

GOP chairman: CHIP must be attached to next funding bill
© Greg Nash

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenVulnerable Republicans throw ‘Hail Mary’ on pre-existing conditions GOP senator wants Apple, Amazon to give briefing on reported Super Micro hack Overnight Health Care: Bill banning 'gag clauses' on drugs heads to Trump's desk | Romney opposes Utah Medicaid expansion | GOP candidate under fire over ad on pre-existing conditions MORE (R-Ore.) said Tuesday that funding for a major children's health insurance program needs to be included in a short-term funding bill later this month. 

The comments from Walden, whose panel oversees the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), add urgency to the push to renew authorization for the program covering 9 million children, which expired at the end of September and has been caught up in partisan fighting over how to pay for an extension. 

Lobbyists say some House GOP staffers have been talking about waiting until a larger funding bill in January to fund CHIP, but Walden is calling for taking care of the issue sooner, on a short-term bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), to keep the government running beyond Dec. 22. 

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"It needs to go on the CR," Walden told reporters. 

"We are well past any reasonable deadline for moving forward on CHIP," Walden said. "States are suffering. Children and families are getting these notices. It's unconscionable."

Some states have started sending notices to enrollees warning them that their health coverage could end if Congress does not renew the funding. No state has run out of funding, but they could within weeks if Congress does not act.  

Democrats and Republicans have been negotiating for months over how to pay for the CHIP extension, but have yet to reach an agreement. 

Democrats have made CHIP funding one of their top requests for the spending bill this month. 

The House passed a bill with largely Republican votes last month, which was paid for in ways that Democrats opposed, such as cutting an ObamaCare public health fund. 

Walden called for simply attaching that bill to the continuing resolution, but acknowledged there are negotiations over other ways to pay for the extension, which could earn more bipartisan support. 

One of those options is extending a 2 percent cut to Medicare spending that was put in place in 2011, known as sequestration, Walden confirmed. 

"That's one of them that's on the table," he said.