Children’s Health Insurance Program Put on Congressional Calendar — After It Expires

(Photo: Francisblack / Getty Images)(Photo: Francisblack / Getty Images)

Republican leaders in the House have finally set a date to consider a bill reauthorizing a program providing health care assistance to tens of millions of Americans, specifically children.

Unfortunately for the roughly 36 million people who currently rely on the Children Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the date scheduled for markup of the legislation falls after the initiative expires.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee announced it would consider CHIP reauthorization on October 4, three days after it sunsets. So far details about the legislation have not been publicly released, including how long the program would be extended for and what sort of cuts the GOP would demand as potential funding offsets.

CHIP was created in 1993, and provided funding to states to help low-income families with children afford health insurance coverage. It was last reauthorized in 2009, as one of President Obama’s initial legislative accomplishments. The program was expanded at the time to cover four million more people.

While CHIP does enjoy bipartisan support, congressional Republicans’ laser-focus on repealing the Affordable Care Act this year has left reauthorization tumble down the legislation calendar, now after its slated termination.

The Senate hasn’t scheduled any hearings or votes on their own reauthorization package.

Despite the looming expiration, most states have a supply of CHIP-funding that they won’t exhaust until next year. The Hill reported, however, that Minnesota could exhaust its funding immediately.

In a letter to its congressional delegation, the state’s health department said it would have to resort to “extraordinary measures” to maintain CHIP coverage for its residents.

Three states and Washington, DC also informed their delegations that they could see CHIP funding dry up before the year’s end.