CHIP Reauthorized, Negotiations Continue over Government Funding After Brief Shutdown

After a stalemate in negotiations over government funding and immigration, the U.S. Government entered partial federal government shutdown beginning at midnight last Friday. Senate Republicans and Democrats spent a fair amount of the weekend directing blame toward one another over the shutdown after not enough votes were secured to pass a four week continuing resolution to keep the federal government open.

Urgent negotiations among a small bipartisan group of U.S. Senators took place in the later part of the weekend to attempt to determine a path forward, and on Monday, a compromise was struck to fund the government through Thursday, February 8. Enough Democratic Senators agreed to vote for the continuing resolution on the pledge from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) that he intends to take up immigration legislation on the Senate Floor either in the next spending bill or thereafter. Specific details of McConnell’s pledge to Democrats were unclear.

Recall, Senate Democrats previously refused to vote for last week’s continuing resolution over Republicans’ refusal to address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that provides protection from deportation to over 700,000 immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. President Donald Trump last year decided to rescind the Obama Administration-era program, and protection provided to DACA recipients will begin expiring in March.

Monday’s continuing resolution to fund the government through February 8 passed the Senate on an 81-18 vote, with both of California’s Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris voting against the measure over the lack of a solution to DACA and immigration reforms. The House passed the measure on a 266-150 vote shortly after the Senate. President Trump signed the continuing resolution into law on Monday evening, returning the federal government to normal operations.

Included in the 17-day continuing resolution was a six-year reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Notably, the reauthorization:

  • Provides federal funding for CHIP for six years (FY 2018 – FY 2023)
  • Continues the 23 percent enhanced federal match rate (for a total of 88 percent) for FY 2018 and FY 2019; the enhanced match rate decreases 11.5 percent (for a total of 76.5 percent) in FY 2020 and then returns to the standard CHIP match rate (65 percent) for FY 2021 through FY 2023
  • Extends the requirement for states to maintain coverage from 2019 through 2023; after October 2019, states are required to maintain coverage for children in families with incomes at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL)

Additional background and information on the reauthorization is available from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) here.

This six-year reauthorization did not include any additional cuts to the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF), as did the short-term CHIP funding patch that was passed in December 2017. Recall, CHIP funding initially expired on September 30, 2017. States throughout the country had been faced with funding shortfalls and decisions over coverage eliminations. In California alone, CHIP provides health care coverage to nearly two million low income children and pregnant women.

A funding reauthorization for community health centers and other related health programs was not included in this week’s continuing resolution measure. Funding also initially expired for community health centers on September 30, 2017, and, like CHIP, centers were provided a short-term funding patch in December 2017. Community health centers are expected to only have enough funding to remain operational until the end of March without further Congressional action.

With the government funding deadline now less than two weeks away, we find ourselves in a familiar place. While negotiations continue over another government funding measure and other significant issues, including immigration, national security and defense, and domestic spending, it remains to be seen what deals will be struck among Congressional leaders and the White House.