Week ahead: Lawmakers near deal on children's health funding

Week ahead: Lawmakers near deal on children's health funding
© Greg Nash

The government is hurtling toward a Friday funding deadline, with important implications for a slew of health-care items.

The coming week could finally see lawmakers agree on extending the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), after months of partisan bickering over how to pay for it.

The breakthrough came when the Congressional Budget Office drastically lowered its cost estimate for the measure, so that it will actually save money if extended for long enough.

"If we go to six years, it may have no cost," House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenOvernight Energy: Green groups to sue over Trump rollback of Obama water rules | GOP climate plan faces pushback from right | Bezos launches B climate initiative GOP climate plan faces pushback — from Republicans Coalition plan seeks to cut carbon emissions in half by 2035 MORE (R-Ore.) told reporters Wednesday. "The good news is you can do six years and it costs you nothing."

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Members in both parties say that change means the extension could move next week, though it depends on broader leadership negotiations over a spending package. There is still some uncertainty over what legislation CHIP reauthorization will be attached to and how long the extension will be.

Walden has proposed a six-year extension, while Democrats are pushing for a longer period, even floating a permanent extension.

Other health-care issues are more contentious.

Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe Trump administration's harmful and immoral attack on children Democrats worried about Trump's growing strength The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: Senate panel to hold hearing on US coronavirus response | Dems demand Trump withdraw religious provider rule | Trump Medicaid proposal sparks bipartisan backlash Democratic senators urge Trump administration to request emergency funding for coronavirus response Democrats demand Trump administration withdraw religious provider rule MORE (D-Wash.) are pushing ahead with talks on their bipartisan bill aimed at stabilizing ObamaCare markets.

Murray is pushing for changes now that Republicans have repealed ObamaCare's individual mandate, but has not detailed what those are.

The measure is not expected to be attached to a short-term spending bill next week, but Alexander is pushing for it to be attached to a long-term funding bill once a deal is reached on that.

Industry groups are pushing for repeal or delay of ObamaCare taxes, such as the health insurance tax, medical device tax and "Cadillac tax" on high-cost insurance plans.

It is possible those measures could be added to a funding bill as well as lawmakers work to reach a deal.

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