Congress to vote on CHIP bill this week

November 02, 2017
Area(s) of Interest: Access to Care GME Funding 

Congress is expected to vote Thursday on a bill to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for five years. The bill (HR 3922) would also extend the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program and the National Health Service Corps for two years.

While the California Medical Association (CMA) strongly supports reauthorizing the successful CHIP program, we are concerned that one of the major funding offsets for this legislation would be cuts to the Prevention and Public Health Fund. Read CMA's letter to congress here.

The Prevention and Public Health Fund has historically been used by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in part to improve childhood immunizations nationwide. Both programs are critical to improving the health and well-being of our nation’s children, and it is counterproductive to cut one to pay for the other.

Although the successful 20-year-old CHIP program has historically had bipartisan support, Congress was consumed by efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and missed the deadline to extend the program and its funding without interruption.

Since its inception, CHIP has successfully provided children of low-income, working families access to physicians so they have a chance to grow up healthy and thrive. It provides access to comprehensive coverage, mental health services and essential preventive services, such as immunizations and developmental screenings, to prevent more serious illnesses and disease.

Over the past 20 years, CHIP has helped reduce the nation’s uninsured rate for children to a record low of 5 percent. In California, the CHIP program currently serves nearly 2 million children and pregnant women – more than 9 million nationwide.

CMA is urging Congress to continue bipartisan funding negotiations as the bill moves through the process. 

Congress must act quickly to renew this critical, cost-effective program. Eleven states have reported that they will exhaust their federal CHIP funding by the end of 2017, with 32 projected to run out by March 2018. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has stepped in to help a few states that have exhausted their funding, but CMS stopgaps won’t cover all 50 states.

California is one of five states that have already received emergency funding from Medicaid to keep their programs running. It is unclear, however, how long that funding will last. Without the emergency funding, California’s CHIP program would have run out of money well before the end of the year.


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