This week, the Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch and Ranking Member Ron Wyden released bipartisan legislation that would reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for a period of five years (FY 2018-2022). The agreement, which would not make significant changes to the program structure or benefits, would maintain the enhanced funding provided in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (which is 23% more than the traditional match rate) for 2018 and 2019. However, in 2020, the enhanced funding increase would be reduced to 11.5%, and funding would return to pre-ACA match levels for 2021and 2022. The bill also modifies the ACA’s maintenance of effort requirement that limits states’ ability to roll back eligibility for children in the program, applying the requirement only to children from families whose income falls below 300 percent of the federal poverty level beginning in October 2019.
The current funding authorization for the CHIP program expires on September 30 of this year. Congress must act by that date to avoid a funding disruption in some states while others will run out of funding at a later date. It is not clear whether the House leadership will agree to the Hatch-Wyden proposal or if it will pursue its own approach but stakeholders are pushing heavily for the program to be reauthorized in advance of the end of the month deadline.