The Senate Finance Committee today held a hearing on the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which covers 8.9 million children with family incomes above Medicaid eligibility limits who lack access to affordable private coverage. While the program is authorized through Oct. 1, 2019, legislative action is needed to continue funding beyond this month. The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, created by the CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2009 to advise Congress on issues affecting Medicaid and CHIP, projects that three states and the District of Columbia will exhaust available federal funds in the first quarter of FY 2018 and another 27 will do so in the second quarter. Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who with Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) led bipartisan efforts to establish the program in 1997, said, “The basic question is: Does the committee want to reauthorize or merely extend CHIP? Reauthorization would entail more extensive debate and the consideration of potential policy changes to the underlying program.” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), ranking member of the committee, said, “It’s important for Congress to take action soon. There’s no kicking this can down the road with a short-term bill.” Testifying at the hearing were the mother of a CHIP recipient and officials from MACPAC and the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services. For more on CHIP, see the AHA’s new infographic.

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