Senators announce bipartisan extension of children’s health program
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 Hatch (R-Utah) and ranking Democrat Ron Wyden (Ore.) said the proposal would also provide additional protections for low-income children and flexibility for states.
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.