Welp. In the end, enough Democrats joined Republicans in both the U.S. Senate and House to pass a massive spending bill in the dead of night. Donald Trump signed it into law early this morning.
Needless to say, I'm not happy at all about a major missing piece of the bill: The DREAM act, which would protect around 690,000 young adults who were brought to the United States as children, was not part of the bill. The Dems in the Senate were able to lock in a formal immigration debate which will presumably be focused in large part on DACA and the Dreamers, but there was no such guaranteed baked in on the House side by Speaker Paul Ryan. Personally, I'm pretty disappointed with the 73 Dems who folded on the issue, but the fight isn't over yet.
CHIP was originally funded as a 10-year program. When the original funding ran out in 2007, it was extended for two years (to 2009) under George W. Bush with little incident (he had previously vetoed an expanded version but later signed the extension of the existing version).
Under President Obama, CHIP was extended (and expanded) again through 2013. The Affordable Care Act added another 2 years to CHIP, extending funding through 2015. In 2015, CHIP funding was extended again, through September 30, 2017.
The completely GOP-controlled Congress allowed CHIP funding to expire. Most state still had a few months worth of money held in reserve for the program, but some started sending out termination notices to the parents of enrollees, letting them know that they'd be kicked off the program within the next month or two.
Last week the Congressional Budget Office reported that funding the CHIP program for 5 years, which they had previously estimated would increase the federal deficit by about $8 billion over the next decade, would instead only increase it by about 1/10th as much: Roughly $800 million, a rounding error when it comes to the federal budget. The reason for this isn't that funding CHIP had suddenly become less expensive, it was instead, ironically, because due to the GOP repealing the ACA's individual mandate starting in 2019, NOT funding CHIP has suddenly become more expensive.
So one of the Big Deals on Twitter this morning was this tweet by Republican(correction: Former Republican) MSNBC talking head Joe Scarborough:
.@SenOrrinHatch talking about children's health care: “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves – won’t lift a finger – and expect the federal government to do everything.”
I used to track the monthly Medicaid/CHIP enrollment reports issued by CMS, watching as the numbersrosedramatically thanks to ACA Medicaid expansion.
I pretty much stopped doing that about a year ago, however, since the expansion numbers have mostly petered out. ACA Medicaid expansion actually has continued to climb a bit more since January, and is likely somewhere around 16 million people as of now, but it's also been partly cancelled out by a slight drop in standard Medicaid enrollment as the economy has continued to improve in general. In short, there's little reason to keep writing the same update every month.
Three days after allowing Children's Health Insurance Program funding to run out for 9 million kids across America, House Republicans are supposedly working on a bill to lock in 5 full years of funding for the program, along with a substantial initial funding infusion to help out Puerto Rico after the devastation of Hurricane Maria:
Republicans on a leading House health-care committee are proposing to send $1 billion in extra Medicaid funding to Puerto Rico as it deals with severe hurricane damage, as part of a five-year plan to fund the federal health insurance program for children.
State officials increasingly worry that this year’s turbulent health-care politics could threaten funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a popular initiative that usually wins broad bipartisan support.
Federal funding for CHIP is set to end Sept. 30. The federal-state program provides health coverage to more than eight million low-income, uninsured children whose family incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid.
The number which keeps getting thrown around is "over 8 million" (which is true), while the official CHIP website lists it as 8.1 million (which was true for 2014).
However, out of curiousity, I took a look to see what the 2015 data is, and sure enough, it was up to 8.4 million last year.
Here's a table showing, state by state, how many children were enrolled in the CHIP program last year (as well as the number in Medicaid, which, surprisingly, is actually more than 4x higher). In fact, well over half of all Medicaid enrollees are children.
NOTE: "Ever Enrolled" is confusing; it makes it sound like this is cumulative since the 1990's. It actually means "ever enrolled during that year", since there's a lot of churn with children moving into or out of the program as their family situation changes over time:
CMS approves Arizona’s plan to re-open CHIP program
Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it has approved Arizona’s plan to allow new enrollment in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) after enrollment was frozen for several years. Now all states provide CHIP coverage to eligible children.
“Today’s approval is a step forward for the health of Arizona children in low-income families,” said Vikki Wachino, CMS Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services. “With Arizona’s decision, all states in the nation now provide CHIP coverage to any eligible child who applies. More children in Arizona will have access to coverage early in their lives, which helps kids grow into healthy adults and provides parents with the peace of mind that comes from their children having affordable coverage.”
Having coverage through CHIP improves children’s health and increases their ability to succeed in school. Recent research on Medicaid and CHIP shows that these gains are long lasting, with children who gained coverage experiencing better health, higher educational attainment, and higher earnings as adults.