E&C Panel Supports Extended CHIP Funding

December 4, 2014

Today, at a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing, bipartisan support emerged for an extension of Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding beyond Sept. 30, 2015, while members examined policy issues that could be addressed in any funding measure.  While Democrats were especially eager to express their support for a funding extension, pointing to legislation introduced by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Republicans praised the program in equal measure, encouraging quick action to ensure continued federal support and highlighting the need for state legislatures to approve budgets early next year.  In a wide-ranging discussion, Members and witnesses differentiated CHIP coverage from Marketplace Qualified Health Plans (QHPs), examined potential gaps in coverage if funding were allowed to expire, and discussed the CHIP program’s successes and “core mission.”

In conjunction with today’s hearing, the Committee also released formal responses issued to the Committee from 39 governors expressing support for CHIP and urging Congress to extend the program, noting the role the program plays in providing affordable and comprehensive coverage to children. On July 29, 2014, the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Senate Finance Committee sent letters to all 50 governors asking for their input to inform Congress’ action on CHIP.  In their letters, governors overwhelmingly supported an extension of CHIP funding, with more than half of them (22) calling for an extension at least through the end of 2019. 

At the hearing, Members heard from witnesses representing independent congressional advisors who provided background on the program and highlighted key policy questions that will likely compliment an extension of CHIP in 2015.  Witnesses invited to testify at the hearing included: Evelyne Baumrucker (testimony), Health Financing Analyst at the Congressional Research Service (CRS); Alison Mitchell (testimony), Health Care Financing Analyst at CRS; Carolyn Yocom (testimony), Director of Health Care at the Government Accountability Office (GAO); and Anne Schwartz, PhD (testimony), Executive Director of the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC).