Update (12/8): On December 7th, Congress passed a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded until December 22nd. Republicans claim the CR contained a CHIP funding fix. However, the CR merely made it easier for states to access leftover funds without adding any new funding. Congress still must pass a full funding fix for CHIP, presumably as part of their December 22nd funding deal.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a program that annually insures nearly 9 million children (and, in some states, pregnant women) whose families’ incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid. Congress allowed the federal funding for CHIP to expire on September 30th. Now, if Congress does not pass a bill renewing CHIP’s funding immediately, states will exhaust their federal CHIP money as early as December of this year, endangering millions of children’s healthcare access.

The House is considering a bill, HR 3922, that would renew funding for both CHIP and community health centers (whose federal funding also expired on 9/30), but pay for the programs by cutting 75% of funding for the ACA’s Prevention and Public Health Fund. Slashing this crucial funding, as former Centers for Disease Control & Prevention director Tom Frieden has noted, will put Americans “at greater risk from vaccine-preventable disease, food-borne infections, and deadly infections contracted in hospitals.” The bill will also fund CHIP by reducing others’ health insurance access. It would reduce individual insurance market consumers’ grace period to pay their premiums before losing insurance from three months to one, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will lead to 500,000 losing health insurance coverage. HR 3922 would also eliminate the safety net coverage that Medicaid and CHIP provide for pregnant women and children while they are actively seeking another source of health insurance coverage.

The Senate has yet to agree on a bipartisan funding source for CHIP reauthorization, meaning they could sign off HR 3922’s highly partisan funding provisions. It is unacceptable to use CHIP funding as a bargaining tool to win partisan victories, cut critical public health initiatives, and undermine popular aspects of the ACA.

Call this office:

Robert P. Casey Jr. D-PA