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Texas Sen. John Cornyn confident Congress will pass CHIP funding

14 January 2018

"Anytime a child gets sick and needs to go to the doctor". I see our responsibility and mission as legislators - and the core objective of our Constitution - as ensuring children have safe spaces, full bellies and good health. For months now, negotiations in Congress have stalled over how to pay for the program that covers 9 million low- and middle-income children.

"With all of their policies that have driven up premium costs in the individual market, not just the mandate repeal but also cutting cost-sharing reduction payments, they made CHIP even more of a bargain than it already was", Joan Alker, the executive director of Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families, told TPM.

Lawmakers' promises they'll soon renew the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are of little comfort to millions of children in the U.S. It is January 11, 2018, and nine million children are still in limbo because Congress will not reauthorize the health Insurance program.

"While the balance in the redistribution pool may be sufficient to cover February shortfalls enabling all states to cover children through February, it has become increasingly hard to predict how long funds will last for any particular state", the center concluded (PDF).

Before the short-term funding was passed in late December, CHIP programs survived on the states' unspent funds and a $3 billion redistribution pool of CHIP dollars controlled by CMS. Most states can not afford to make up the difference and will have to freeze enrollment or terminate coverage when their federal funding runs out.

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The wait has been an agonizingly long one - over 100 days and counting for this reauthorization.

Right now there is a bipartisan bill ready and waiting to be brought to the Senate floor. His committee has jurisdiction over the health program's budget. But former Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who strongly supported the program as First Lady when it was enacted in 1997, put the onus on him to advance legislation. In the Senate, aides were less confident the package can pass as a stand-alone, but Sen. So what's the holdup?

"It really seems to be the impact of our fragmented health care system", said Ashish Thakar, the study's lead author.

The answer makes my blood boil: It is a pawn in cynical political machinations. "We have 2.6 million children who are enrolled in the Florida KidCare program, including the Medicaid (children)". Instead of taking up this bipartisan bill, they're holding it hostage to try to win concessions in budget negotiations.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn confident Congress will pass CHIP funding