The Senate Finance Committee has agreed to a five-year funding extension for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the tax-writing panel’s top Republican and Democrat announced Tuesday evening.
The announcement from Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) came with Congress careening toward an end-of-the-month deadline to extend federal funding for a program that covers roughly 9 million low-income children.
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“Not only does this proposal provide uninterrupted funding for CHIP, but it also provides certainty and increased flexibility for states to administer the program,” Hatch said in a statement.
The proposed legislation would maintain Obamacare’s 23 percent increase in the federal matching rate to states for 2018 and 2019 and begin to ratchet it down in 2020, according to GOP and Democratic aides. The bump is set at 11.5 percent in 2020 and would be totally eliminated starting in 2021.
The bitter Obamacare repeal debate for months sidelined work on extending federal funding for CHIP, which covers children in families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid. States have repeatedly warned lawmakers that they may have to freeze enrollment or send termination notices to enrollees if funding is not renewed by the end of this month.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee has not unveiled legislation.
Republicans have criticized the boost in the federal matching rate. But with CHIP action stalled until late in the year, lawmakers did not believe Congress could reduce the federal share for at least a year, according to GOP aides. Most state legislatures have adjourned for 2017 and already set their budgets for at least the next year.
Hatch and Wyden said full legislative text will be released in the coming days.