December 21, 2017

New short-term spending proposal aims to rescue CHIP, other health programs

Daily Briefing

    House Republicans early Thursday morning proposed a new short-term spending bill that would fund the federal government through Jan. 19, 2018, and includes stop-gap funding for some health care programs.

    Medicare 101: Cheat sheets for Parts A through D

    Congress must pass and President Trump must sign a federal spending bill by end of day Friday to avoid a partial government shutdown. The House is likely to vote on and approve the bill Thursday, though the measure likely will not have support from Democrats in the chamber, Politico reports. The Senate is expected to vote on and approve the measure shortly after it passes the House, according to the Associated Press.

    Bill details

    The bill includes $2.85 billion in funding for CHIP, which would be allocated for the first two quarters of fiscal year (FY) 2018, which range from Oct. 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018. The bill also would give CMS extra flexibility to redistribute funding to address any shortfalls states might face for CHIP.

    The bill also would allocate during the first two quarters of FY 2018:

    • $550 million in funding for community health centers;
    • $65 million to the National Health Service Corps;
    • $37.5 million for the Special Diabetes Program for Type 1 Diabetes; and
    • $15 million to the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program.

    The bill also would provide $37.5 million for the Special Diabetes Program for Indians in the second quarter of FY 2018.

    In addition, the bill includes $2.1 billion in mandatory funding for the Veterans Choice Program.

    The short-term spending bill also includes offsets for the funds, including redirecting $750 million from the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) Prevention and Public Health fund for other programs.

    Bill does not include ACA stabilization measures

    The short-term spending bill does not include provisions intended to bolster the ACA's exchanges, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had promised Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) would be included to gain her vote for Republicans' tax reform bill.

    Collins and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who co-authored one of the ACA measures, in a statement released Wednesday said, "Instead, we will offer [the measures] after the first of the year when the Senate will consider the omnibus spending bill, [CHIP] reauthorization, funding for community health centers, and other legislation that was to have been enacted this week."

    Alexander added, "I am confident that after the first of the year members of both houses will be eager to include our legislation in what was to have been the year-end package of bills."

    Separately, a White House official on Wednesday said Trump will support efforts to pass the ACA-related measures, The Hill reports. "We believe we will work with the House to get those passed," the official said, adding, "We think that we'll be in a more comfortable place in January to get that passed."

    Experts criticize Congress for not passing long-term CHIP reauthorization

    Some stakeholders criticized Congress for not passing legislation that would reauthorize federal CHIP funding long-term, McClatchy DC reports.

    Joan Alker, executive director of Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families, said, "Another short-term patch this week would leave states in the dark as to how much funding they actually have."

    Tricia Brooks, a senior fellow at the Center for Children and Families, added, "At some point states will reach a point of no return. … And we are reaching that critical point if Congress goes home without taking care of CHIP."

    According to an analysis the center released Wednesday, 25 states currently are projected to run out of CHIP funding by Jan. 31, which could cause coverage disruptions for nearly two million children, if Congress does not approve additional funding for the program this week (Taylor, AP/Sacramento Bee, 12/21; Ferris et al., Politico, 12/20; Diamond, "Pulse," Politico, 12/21; Bill summary, accessed 12/21; Bill text, 12/20; Pugh/Dumain, McClatchy DC/Sacramento Bee, 12/21; Small, FierceHealthcare, 12/20; Baker, "Vitals," Axios, 12/21; Edney et al., Bloomberg, 12/20; Firth, MedPage Today, 12/20; Fabian, The Hill, 12/20).

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