Hart Health Strategies provides a comprehensive policy briefing on a weekly basis. This in-depth health policy briefing is sent out at the beginning of each week. The health policy briefing recaps the previous week and previews the week ahead. It alerts clients to upcoming congressional hearings, newly introduced bills, regulatory announcements, and implementation activity related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and other health laws.


Lawmakers Near Deal on CHIP Extension

New research from Georgetown University indicates that the latest short-term patch for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) could expire earlier than expected. Their data indicates that 11 states will exhaust program funds in February and be forced to rely on a reserve of federal funds – nearly a month earlier than lawmakers had predicted when they passed a $2.8 billion CHIP patch in December. The funding was intended to keep CHIP up and running into mid-March. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has stated that no states will experience an interruption in coverage prior to January 19 but does not have a more exact estimate of when the remainder of funding will be exhausted.

Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has provided an estimate to lawmakers indicating that a 10-year extension of CHIP would actually save $6 billion over the next decade. The change in cost is a result of the repeal of the individual mandate, which will raise premiums in the individual health insurance market and result in more families choosing CHIP instead of private coverage, therefore lowering spending for marketplace subsidies. Members of Congress were initially negotiating a five-year extension of CHIP, estimated to cost $800 million, but are now considering a longer extension of the program.

Many Republicans, especially GOP lawmakers in the House, are hesitant to fund CHIP for a decade without examining broader changes to the program and instead favor six years of funding, which is estimated to have no cost. Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), however, are considering a 10-year extension. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) has announced that he intends to bring a six-year CHIP bill to the floor this week. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has pledged that the Senate will pass some form of CHIP extension before the current continuing resolution (CR) expires on January 19. Whether a CHIP bill is tied to the next short-term government funding bill or moved independently will depend on broader leadership negotiations.

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