House to vote next week on CHIP funding bill as states brace for shortfalls

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The Senate Finance Committee advanced a companion CHIP funding bill in early October but hasn't outlined how to pay for it.

The House of Representatives is finally planning to vote on a bill that would reauthorize federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). 

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said on Thursday that there will be a vote next week on a measure that extends CHIP funding for five years. Federal funding for the program expired Sept. 30.

The bill advanced from the House Energy and Commerce Committee on a party-line vote by Republicans, as Democrats object to the fact that it makes cuts to Affordable Care Act programs as well as Medicare and Medicaid to offset the costs of funding CHIP.

Democrats have since requested that Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., delay sending the measure to the floor while the two parties try to work out a compromise on offsets. However, congressional inaction has been problematic for states that will soon run out of CHIP funding.

According to a new survey conducted by researchers at Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families, at least five states—Arizona, California, Minnesota, Ohio and Oregon—plus the District of Columbia predict they will run out of funding by the end of 2017 or early in January. Another six states are planning to take action before the end of the year, even if their funding isn’t expected to run out.

“This delay in funding CHIP is really unchartered territory and puts at risk the nation’s success in covering children,” Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University center, said in a release outlining the findings.

On the House floor on Thursday, McCarthy said Republicans have to bring the bill to the floor next week because "Minnesota's about to run out of money." He and and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland also sparred over which party was to blame for the delay.

“It’s not us who walked away from the table,” McCarthy said. “It is you and your side of the aisle that have said no. It is us who said let’s sit down and talk.”

But Hoyer argued that Democrats negotiated in good faith to reach a bipartisan agreement and simply haven’t reach an accord yet with Republicans.

“We didn’t get there, and I regret that,” he said. “We are where we are, but I want to tell my friend that I will continue to work toward that objective.”

The Senate Finance Committee, meanwhile, advanced a companion CHIP funding bill in early October. That bill, though, did not outline how it would be paid for and has not yet been passed by the full Senate.