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House passes bill reauthorizing CHIP funding, delays cuts to disproportionate share hospitals

Program, which covers 8 million children, has garnered largely bipartisan support since it took effect in 1997.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday passed a bill reauthorizing the Children's Health Insurance Program and funding it for the next five years. The bill will now move on to the Senate.

The bill passed the house with a vote of 242-174, according to Bloomberg.

[Also: Senate Finance Committee extends CHIP funding for 5 years]

The program provides health insurance coverage for children in low-income households under Medicaid even if the child's parents don't qualify for the program's coverage.

The program has garnered largely bipartisan support since it took effect in 1997 and currently covers about 8 million kids.

[Also: CHIP reauthorization complicated with packed legislative calendar this month]

The bill also provides money for community health centers, and will be funded by taking money from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which finances public health efforts as part of the ACA and limits federal subsidies to Medicare beneficiaries that earn over $500,000.

Advocacy group America's Essential Hospitals applauded the move by the House, saying it moves the country one step closer to preserving access to care for the nation's children. The group called on the Senate to follow suit and pass the bill to ensure the program continues. The CHIP reauthorization happened in tandem with a delay being authorized for the implementation of potentially damaging cuts to disproportionate share hospital payments, which help reimburse hospitals for providing care to the under and uninsured.

"More than a month has passed since DSH cuts started; we cannot afford to wait another month. The House and Senate must quickly find a bipartisan path forward to halting the DSH cuts and extending CHIP. The nation's essential hospitals are ready to work with lawmakers on sustainable solutions," the group said.

But Democratic Michigan Rep. Sander Levin blasted the bill because of how the program draws funding, and urged Congress to take a more bipartisan approach.

"This flawed bill comes more than one month after the deadline and relies on harmful offsets that would rip coverage from hundreds of thousands of Affordable Care Act enrollees, shift costs onto Medicare beneficiaries, and raid billions from the Prevention and Public Health Fund," he said. "At a time when we should be strengthening, not abandoning, our investments in the health of the American people, Republicans have instead chosen to pass this bill that jeopardizes funding for immunizations, lead poisoning prevention, opioid treatment, and other important public health priorities to pay for what should have been a bipartisan proposal."

Twitter: @BethJSanborn
Email the writer: beth.sanborn@himssmedia.com

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