A bipartisan group of governors led by Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) sent a letter to Congress calling on lawmakers to act quickly to reauthorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which expired on Sept. 30.
“Since its creation, CHIP has enjoyed strong bipartisan support. We encourage you to work across the aisle to find common ground that will allow this important program to continue and give the families who rely on CHIP the peace of mind of knowing that their children will be able to get the health care they need in the new year,” the letter reads.
Congress recently passed a resolution lifting restrictions to give the most-at-risk states access to a pool of leftover government funds, however that pool is rapidly being depleted and some states will run out of money by the end of the year.
“In the absence of Congressional action, we have worked to protect coverage for children and pregnant women in each of our states, but we will need federal support to continue the program,” the governors wrote. “Resources are nearly exhausted and some states already have begun to inform families that their children’s coverage may end on January 31.”
Virginia officials on Tuesday said they are planning to send a letter informing families that their children’s coverage may end on Jan. 31 if Congress does not renew the funding.
The Hill added:
The House passed a five-year CHIP extension in early November, but it was mostly on a party-line vote as Democrats objected to the bill’s offsets.
The Senate Finance Committee cleared a CHIP extension but did not discuss offsets and the bill has yet to come to the floor for a vote.
There’s hope among lawmakers that an agreement could be reached to include a CHIP renewal in the next government spending bill, but without an agreement on offsets, there’s a risk the renewal could slip to January.
“So far we can’t get any agreement on pay-fors. A lot of the pay-fors that are out there are being recommended for use in different places and we haven’t settled on it yet,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) told The Hill.
While it’s likely that Congress will continue passing temporary patches, Walden says the short gap emergency measures aren’t sustainable.
“You’re using funds that other states will need later in the spring, so all that does is move the problem more rapidly forward,” Walden said. “You can’t keep doing these short gap emergency access to funds for states because you’re draining the money that’s there.”