Capitol Correspondence - 01.16.18

CHIP Bill Gaining Political Prominence after CBO Releases New Report

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The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently released a report that funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) under Medicaid for 10 years would save the federal government $6 billion over that period of time. This has led to calls from Democratic members of Congress to pass a “permanent fix” for the program rather than leave its funding uncertain every time the program expires. This is creating political pressure for the GOP to address the program’s expiration with either a 6-year or 10-year extension, particularly following the passage of the tax reform bill. There are a rumors that a bipartisan deal is in the works, which could be announced as soon as this week.

However, there are internal divisions within the GOP on two aspects of a CHIP extension. First, fiscal conservatives in the House of Representatives view the program as an entitlement and wish to make extending CHIP conditional on entitlement reforms. This would complicate the bill’s bipartisan chances in the Senate where the partisan margin is narrower following Doug Jones’ election, leading to Senate Republicans to disagree with including entitlement provisions. Second, there is disagreement as to whether the CHIP bill should be a “clean” stand-alone bill with no un-related bills or provisions attached to it, or whether it should be folded into the process for funding the government – either with a 2018 budget or through short-term funding extensions (known as “continuing resolutions”). While a standalone bill would avoid the conflict sure to surround federal budget process, as well as “poison pill” amendments that would complicate its passage, it could also reduce the chances of advancement for less politically prominent bills such as the renewal of Money Follows the Person.

ANCOR is monitoring the bill and will continue to inform members of developments on this topic as they unfold this week.