Republican Leadership Fails Children Again, as Congress and President Trump Leave for the Holidays without Securing Long-Term Funding for the Childrens Health Insurance Program

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Washington, D.C. – As the last legislative action of the year, the Senate finished work last night on the House-passed Continuing Resolution, which provides funding to extend government operations through January 19, 2018. Long-term funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was not included in the legislation and instead Congress instituted yet another short-term patch for CHIP. Congress is now 83 days past the deadline to extend funding for CHIP and states continue to take extraordinary measures to try and protect the children and families relying on this popular, bipartisan program.

Families USA Executive Director Frederick Isasi issued the following statement:

“With bipartisan agreement on a strong, 5-year funding extension and promises throughout the year that this CHIP extension would get done before January, states and families were counting on Congress to do their job. We are deeply disappointed that Congress again punted action on CHIP, providing only a short-term patch for CHIP funding. This is an appalling abdication of responsibility and levies a shameful burden on vulnerable families who should be enjoying the holidays with their kids, not worrying about their coverage.

"Congress has repeatedly signaled its broad and bipartisan support for CHIP and they have assured states and families time and again that they would fully fund CHIP this year. While the legislation includes a $2.85 billion '3-month' funding patch, this amount will not be enough to carry states through to the next CHIP deadline in March. States have been spending unbudgeted dollars and working with CMS staff to postpone the day of reckoning when children will lose coverage. Unfortunately, states’ willingness to bend over backwards to maintain coverage for kids has been a source of leverage by both parties’ leadership to fight for other priorities, on the assumption that states will continue to be the adults in the room and string along their CHIP programs using creative financing schemes. States have clearly signaled that they cannot keep those schemes afloat much longer. We will still almost certainly see enrollment freezes or disenrollment in some states before CHIP is extended.

"While bipartisan CHIP champions worked hard on the 5-year funding extension, we regret that congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle were unwilling to make CHIP a priority much earlier this year. Last night’s vote fosters more needless uncertainty for states and families. Time is way past due for Congress to make good on its promises. No more excuses and no more delays. Congress must attend to a 5-year CHIP extension as soon as possible in the New Year."

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Families USA, a leading national voice for health care consumers, is dedicated to the achievement of high-quality, affordable health care and improved health for all.

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