Senators announce bipartisan extension of children's health program

Senators announce bipartisan extension of children's health program
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The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) could be extended for five years under an agreement whose terms were first announced by Senate Finance Committee leaders Tuesday night.

Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchKavanaugh accuser agrees to testify next week Judiciary Dems say GOP treating Kavanaugh accuser worse than Anita Hill Dem vows to probe 'why the FBI stood down' on Kavanaugh MORE (R-Utah) and ranking Democrat Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: NYT says Rosenstein wanted to wear wire on Trump | Twitter bug shared some private messages | Vendor put remote-access software on voting machines | Paypal cuts ties with Infowars | Google warned senators about foreign hacks Overnight Health Care: Opioids package nears finish line | Measure to help drug companies draws ire | Maryland ObamaCare rates to drop Google says senators' Gmail accounts targeted by foreign hackers MORE (Ore.) said the proposal would also provide additional protections for low-income children and flexibility for states.

According to a Senate aide, the five-year extension includes a gradual reduction in enhanced federal matching funds that were first included in the Affordable Care Act, beginning in 2020. Republicans have objected to that enhanced funding, which means that 12 states don't contribute anything to what is supposed to be a joint state-federal program. 
 
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The gradual phaseout will give those states time to adjust their budgets.
 
But questions still remain about whether the legislation will pass as a stand-alone bill, or if additional provisions, such as a bipartisan ObamaCare stabilization bill, will be attached. Lawmakers have an extremely narrow window to get the deal passed and sent to President Trump. 

Federal funding for the program, which provides care for 9 million low- and middle-income children, is set to expire at the end of September.

The members said full legislative language will be released in the coming days. Should the proposal pass the Senate, the House will also need to vote on it before the Sept. 30 deadline.

“We will continue to work to advance this agreement in a way that does not add to the deficit, and I am hopeful we can move forward swiftly to ensure no lapse in care for our nation’s most vulnerable children,” Hatch said in a statement.

A two-year CHIP reauthorization passed in April 2015, months before the program was set to expire, and the provision was included in a larger Medicare reform package.

Children’s health advocates have repeatedly called for a five-year extension because it would provide the most stability during an uncertain time in health care.