January 22, 2018
Area(s) of Interest: Access to Care Advocacy
Today, the U.S. Senate voted to end the federal shutdown and keep the government running temporarily for three weeks until February 8. This stopgap bill will give budget negotiators time to develop a final agreement on 2018 fiscal year spending. The House of Representatives is expected to adopt the Senate’s three-week stopgap bill.
The bill also includes a six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) – an important program that serves nearly 2 million children and pregnant women in California, and more than 9 million nationwide. The California Medical Association (CMA) has been advocating vigorously for an extension of the CHIP program, which expired in October. Although the successful 20-year-old CHIP program has historically had bipartisan support, Congress had been unable until now to come to an agreement to extend the program.
Over the past 20 years, CHIP has helped reduce the nation’s uninsured rate for children to a record low of 5 percent. 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.
So far, CMA and the American Medical Association have also successfully fought-off the Medicare physician payment cut that was being contemplated as a funding source for extending some expiring Medicare programs.
In return for Democratic votes on the stopgap funding bill, Senate Republican Leader McConnell has agreed to hold a Senate vote with open amendments on immigration issues, including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that expires in March.