Congressional spending battle ensnares CHIP funding

Time to stop using 9 million children as a bargaining CHIP

For a little less than four hours Thursday, President Donald Trump asserted that funding for CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program, should not be included in a Republican continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown before Friday.

It's been nearly four months since the deadline passed for Congress to re-authorize funding for CHIP and the clock is ticking before states will start running out of money needed to keep kids covered.

Senate GOP leaders prepared to force Democrats into a series of uncomfortable votes, aimed at splitting their ranks by pitting moderates from states that Trump won against party leaders and the handful of outspoken liberals considering a run for the presidency.

House Republicans hope including funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program - or "CHIP" - will help them reach a bi-partisan solution.

"New Jersey has always supported the program, even figured out ways to streamline the application process and simplify renewals", said Mary Coogan, attorney and head of Advocates for Children of New Jersey's Kidlaw Legal Resource Center.

"The House has a lot of folks who consider CHIP to be an entitlement", one Republican health care lobbyist told me. Republicans want to include a six-year extension for funding the program as part of a negotiation on a short-term spending bill that would avert a government shutdown.

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"Congress needs to do its job and provide full funding of our troops and military with a two-year budget caps deal".

Senator Steve Daines announced the need to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years and keep the government open. Congress passed a short-term Band-Aid just before Christmas to keep the program limping along a few more weeks, but CHIP is now on life support. More states are expected to issue notices to parents soon. "We have seen that, because kids get regular check-ups, things like asthma are addressed and ER visits decreased".

Transitioning those kids into marketplace plans would likely raise their cost sharing burdens considerably, she said. This includes children who are receiving life-saving cancer treatments, preventative care, and other critical healthcare services.

She also warned that passing CHIP funding while other health care initiatives and programs undergo cuts could also lead to problems down the road.

"I have no interest in shutting the government down", said Brown.

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