The funding of CHIP is up in the air … again. Recently, the Trump administration announced they wanted to cut more than $15 billion of previously approved spending. This announcement comes on the heels of the president signing the Bipartisan Budget Act, which the president complained about the size of the spending package.
The administration is using a rarely used tactic called the "rescission package". This tactic allows the president to send a bill to Congress in order to strip money from the omnibus spending bill that was passed in March.
Of the $15 billion, the administration proposed $7 billion of available funds to be receded from the CHIP program. The administration says $5 billion can no longer be spent because the period for it to be sent to states has expired. Those monies were originally made available by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. The other $2 billion is being taken from the federal contingency fund for CHIP. That money is set aside and can only be used when and if they face a budget shortfall.
The administration is proposing this cut in order to reduce the deficit. Health advocates claim that money that would not have been spent does not result in any savings and will not reduce the deficit. Along with no savings, advocates claim that this will result in only an on-paper reduction while causing a loss in funding for CHIP Although these funds are not going to children’s healthcare right now, these monies could be used later if the program found itself with more children enrolled than it had funds to support.
CHIP covers about 9 million children whose parents usually earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private health coverage. The 20-year-old program is paid for almost entirely by federal funds. This isn’t the first time under this administration that CHIP was at risk; last fall, CHIP got caught up in the battle to fund the government. Congress failed to fund CHIP on September 30th, but finally added another 4 years to the fund on January 22, 2018. Proper funding of CHIP is not only the right thing to do for children, the Congressional Budget Office said funding CHIP would save the federal government $6 billion over 10 years.
Again, congress is playing politics with our children, and again, we think it is time they stop.