It has been almost two months now since Congress allowed the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to expire at the end of September.
As Joan McCarter at Daily Kos recently noted:
This is unprecedented. It’s obscene and unconscionable. Never before has Congress allowed funding for children’s health and community health center expire—even when they were playing games with debt ceilings and government shutdowns, Republicans funded health care for kids and for the underserved. Not this year, not when they have tax cuts for rich people and corporations to focus on.
When last we visited this controversy, Tea-Publicans in Congress were holding CHIP funding hostage as leverage in their never-ending sabotage of “Obamacare.”
The House passed a bill Friday reauthorizing the lapsed Children’s Health Insurance Program. But instead of a bipartisan affair that Democrats and Republicans could pat themselves on the back for, the bill became a partisan fight over offsets that ultimately moves Congress further away from renewing CHIP.
The bill that passed Friday 242-174 ― with 227 Republicans and 15 Democrats voting yes, and 171 Democrats and 3 Republicans voting no ― almost certainly won’t become law. Instead, Congress will likely wait for an end-of-the-year spending bill to reauthorize the program, which covers roughly 9 million low-income children and pregnant women.
According to Democrats, the problem with the bill, which would extend CHIP for five years and reauthorize community health centers and other public health programs for two years, is that it would pay for children’s health insurance by taking money from a preventive care fund. The GOP bill would also use new Medicare means-testing to partially pay for CHIP.