The U.S. House of Representatives last week passed the Championing Healthy Kids Act, extending funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) for five years. However, pay-for provisions included in the bill threaten to derail reauthorization efforts by pitting children against seniors and public health advocates.
The Association for Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP) calls the pay-for proposal “a classic example of ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul,’” terming it “counterproductive to the goal of keeping our nation’s women, children, and families healthy.” Payment provisions are also opposed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and First Focus.
The House bill goes to the Senate for action with its payment provisions expected to generate significant opposition.
The current lack of action in Congress in reauthorizing SCHIP is “unprecedented” and a threat to “the nation’s historic achievement in covering more than 95 percent of children,” according to a new policy brief released last week.
This inaction places nearly 375,000 Florida children at-risk of losing insurance or facing gaps in coverage. States are quickly running out of money with some expected to start dis-enrolling children before the end of the year. Florida is predicted to exhaust funds early in 2018. The state’s woes are compounded by the impact of Hurricane Irma and its decision to seek a waiver eliminating premium payments for families affected by the storm.
National groups are encouraging state and local advocates to reach out to Senators and urge immediate, bipartisan action on SCHIP reauthorization with pay-for provisions that do not reduce current investments in vital public health and health care programs.