- A number of healthcare stakeholders and provider groups have praised bipartisan legislation that re-authorizes CHIP funding for the next six years.
Democratic members of the House and Senate agreed to pass a stopgap government funding bill, designed by GOP lawmakers, that keeps the government open until February 8th and funds CHIP until 2024.
The final votes tallied 81-19 in the Senate and 266-150 in the House. President Trump later signed the bill into effect.
Legislative issues caused a rift between both sides of the aisle, according to the New York Times, which led to a three day shutdown of the government from January 18th to January 23rd without any progress on CHIP funding. CHIP was not federally reauthorized for 114 days, which posed risks to states about to run out of CHIP funds.
The bill provides the CHIP program with over $124 billion dollars in federal contributions, which is able to cover 88 percent of the program’s expenses. Individual states will make up the difference.
CHIP provides health insurance benefits to roughly nine million children in the US. The approval of longer-term funding has alleviated significant stress for state governments and their Medicaid directors.
“I am incredibly grateful and happy that this nightmare is over for CHIP,” Linda Nablo, chief deputy director of Virginia’s Medicaid and CHIP agency told the Washington Post.
A number of professional societies and stakeholder organizations expressed relief at the funding bill.
Margaret A. Murray, CEO of the Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP), released a statement which praised the actions of Congress as a strong initial step towards permanently funding CHIP.
"We commend Congress for renewing the CHIP program for 6 years,” Murray said. “This has been a difficult process that strained the ability of states to meet the needs of their recipients as Congress deliberated reauthorization.”
“Throughout this long legislative process, we have always maintained that protecting CHIP will provide the kind of fiscal stability that states need, and the health security that families deserve. As we move forward from this debate, we believe that CHIP should be permanently reauthorized, so that states and families who benefit from the program can be assured that it is a dependable part of the safety net."
Murray added that Congress’s actions provide a hopeful indication that lawmakers will work to fix other public health insurance concerns.
“Now we call on Congress to act quickly on the long list of other health care issues of importance to ACAP, safety net health plans, and the American people,” Murray said.
“These including the reauthorization of care coordination for Medicare/Medicaid beneficiaries through the Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans and providing stability for 9 million Americans receiving coverage through health insurance exchanges. ACAP stands prepared to work with congress in a bipartisan way to protect people who need these programs.”
Colleen Kraft, MD, and president of the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) also provided a statement that suggested potential opportunities for solving long-term pediatric healthcare issues.
“With today’s passage of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the families of nearly 9 million children and their doctors can finally take a deep breath. After 114 days of worry, the AAP welcomes today’s bipartisan Congressional action to extend CHIP funding for six years,” Kraft said.
“Now that Congress has acted on CHIP, we urge a similar bipartisan approach to the other pressing child health issues that remain unresolved, such as the Maternal Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV), which serves at-risk pregnant women and parents with young children,” Kraft added.
Saul Levin, MD, CEO and medical director of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) believes that the CHIP extension is vital for protecting mental health benefits for over 850,000 CHIP beneficiaries.
"Early access to quality evidence-based mental health services and treatment is critical for children and adolescents facing mental health challenges," Levin said. "Extension of the CHIP program will provide access to mental health care services for low-income children and youth who otherwise might not have access to care.
"We are also glad to see that members of both parties came together and voted for this important measure," Levin added. "We hope this is a sign of more bipartisan cooperation in the future.”