House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Holds Hearing on the Future of the CHIP Program
December 12, 2014 03:17 PM
The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee recently held a hearing on the future of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In his opening statement, Health Subcommittee Chairman Joseph Pitts (R-PA) highlighted the biggest issue that is facing CHIP, and why Congress must act:
“CHIP is a means-tested program designed to cover children and pregnant women who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but may not have access to purchase affordable private health insurance.
Most recently, the Affordable Care Act reauthorized CHIP through FY2019, but the law only provided funding for the program through September 30, 2015.
CHIP has historically enjoyed bipartisan Congressional support, and it is widely seen as providing better care than many state Medicaid programs.
Moving forward, Congress should be thoughtful and data-driven in our approach.”
The hearing included a panel of expert witnesses comprised of the following:
Health Financing Analyst, Congressional Research Service
Health Care Financing Analyst, Congressional Research Service
Director, Health Care Government Accountability Office
Anne Schwartz, PhD
Executive Director, Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission
Unlike Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, which were set up as entitlement programs that weren’t subjected to periodic reauthorization by Congress or Congress’ discretionary spending appropriations process, CHIP does need to be reauthorized and funded through Congress. While the program is currently authorized through 2019, its funding is set to expire at the end of 2015.
In FY 2013, CHIP provided coverage for more than 8 million children and 10,000 pregnant women who were not eligible for traditional Medicaid coverage. As Congress begins to consider the future of the program, many of the witnesses and Subcommittee members are concerned with how to cover this population in the future. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), the Health Subcommittee’s Ranking Member, urged Congress to support extending CHIP funding through 2019, and introduced a bill that would do so. “[CHIP] is a vital program that provides coverage to 8.1 million low-to-moderate income children throughout the Nation who are unable to afford or are not eligible for other forms of coverage,” said Rep. Pallone during the hearing, and continuing:
“Without Congressional action, funding for the program will expire next year. This would inevitably lead to gaps in coverage for some and lack of coverage for many others. So we must have a conversation now about providing funding as soon as possible. In fact, I would urge my colleagues to consider an extension during the lame duck – to ensure predictability to the many states that have come to rely and appreciate the CHIP program. I don’t think anyone would argue that CHIP should not be extended…
Across red and blue states, including some that did and some that did not proactively implement the ACA, Governors overwhelmingly support the extension of CHIP funding.
I have a bill – H.R. 5364, the “CHIP Extension and Improvement Act of 2014” – that would achieve this purpose while also instituting reforms that would enable states to eliminate administrative burdens and increase quality of care.
By funding the program through 2019, we would provide states with more time to plan for the future, putting them in a better position to ensure that there are no disruptions in affordable and comprehensive coverage for those families who depend on the program.”
NAHC and its affiliate, the Pediatric Home Care Association of America, strongly support an extension of funding for the CHIP program. The fact that the powerful Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held this hearing, and the fact that CHIP funding ends at the end of the next fiscal year indicates that this will be a priority for the 114th Congress.