One of the “big ticket” items for Congress to address is the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Although CHIP’s authorization had expired on September 30, 2017, Congress included passed a six-month patch with $2.85 billion as part of H.R. 1370, which also funds the federal government through January 19, 2018. In addition to these new funds, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has roughly $1.7 billion remaining in carryover CHIP funding; CMS has already distributed $1.2 billion to 16 states and the District of Columbia that were close to experiencing a shortfall.
Even so, some advocates worry whether Congress will be able to pass a five-year reauthorization before the short-term patch expires. The Center for Children and Families at Georgetown notes that annual federal spending on CHIP is about $14.5 billion, suggesting that $2.85 billion for six months will be insufficient for states’ needs. Moreover, the lack of certainty is hurting states’ ability to plan and manage their programs for the upcoming year and beyond, and some states are considering dramatic changes to their CHIP-funded programs if Congress fails to pass a full five-year reauthorization.
Written by Oliver J. Kim, CSG/ERC Health Policy Consultant