House Passes Measure to Fund CHIP and Community Health Centers, Gut PPHF

The U.S. House of Representatives today passed a measure to reauthorize and fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), community health centers, and other health-related programs.

Recall, the House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced measures in October on a partisan-basis to fund CHIP for five years and community health centers for two years. All Democrats voted against the proposals due to concerns with the bill’s offsets, including utilizing the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) and increasing Medicare premiums for individuals with specified incomes.

Three Republican House members voted against the measure, while 15 Democratic House members voted to support the measure. The measure passed today slashes more than $6.35 billion in PPHF dollars over the next ten years. Should the measure be signed into law, California would lose out $27 million in PPHF in FY 2019 alone and $165 million in PPHF through FY 2023.

PPHF is a critical public health funding source, supporting grants from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to states, territories, and nonprofit and tribal organizations throughout the country. These funds are used for a variety of core public health functions, including vaccination programs, infectious disease detection and prevention, and chronic disease prevention.

While the health programs included in the measure passed today are essential, CHEAC opposes funding them at the expense of other critical public health investments. The measure now moves on to the Senate, where it likely faces a more difficult path forward. Already on Thursday, 22 Democratic U.S. Senators penned a leader to Senate leadership expressing opposition to funding health programs with PPHF.

Last month, the Senate Finance Committee also advanced a five-year CHIP reauthorization measure on a bipartisan basis. However, a funding source for the measure has not been identified and negotiations are ongoing. The measure has not been set for a floor vote.

While the CHIP Program expired at the end of September, states have had enough funding to continue the program for a short time. Several states could potentially run out of funding as early as this month without action from Congress and President Trump.