On Wednesday, House and Senate committees of jurisdiction passed their respective efforts to reauthorize and extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), after the program’s funding technically expired on September 30. The House and Senate bills mirror each other, reauthorizing CHIP for five years through 2022 while winding down the ACA’s 23 percent increase in matching federal funds after two years and changing the program’s maintenance of effort provisions that have prevented states from reducing eligibility for the program.
While both committees passed their bills, the markups could not have been more different. In a relatively speedy markup, the Senate Finance Committee favorably reported the “Keep Kids’ Insurance Dependable and Secure (KIDS) Act of 2017” out of committee by voice vote, with Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) the only senator to vote no. However, on the other side of the Capitol in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, things were much more partisan. After several hours of debate, the committee passed the CHIP reauthorization bill in a 28-23 vote with no Democrats voting in support of the bill. Committee Democrats are supportive of CHIP and noted its long bipartisan history throughout the markup, however, their unified opposition to this bill was due to Republican proposals to offset the cost of the legislation by using the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) Prevention and Public Health Fund, implementing changes to Medicaid eligibility, and increasing means-testing measures for wealthy seniors in Medicare. It remains unclear as to when Congress will bring the legislation up for a vote and ultimately send the bill to the President’s desk for his signature.