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New Brief Explains CHIP Extension and Other Provisions Included in HEALTHY KIDS and ACCESS Acts

Healthy Children and Access Acts

The last few months have been full of twists and turns for CHIP. Child health stakeholders were disappointed to see the September 30, 2017 deadline come and go with no new CHIP funding, but then encouraged by Committee action in the House and Senate in early October. But the failure to get CHIP funding across the finish line became mystifying as November approached and there was no further movement, especially because the policies were already agreed to by both parties in both houses. Things continued to heat up as states forecasted running out of CHIP funds and began preparations to notify families their child’s coverage may be ending.

In December, Congress took baby steps to keep CHIP afloat. First, Congress changed the redistribution formula, giving CMS temporary authority to give states running out of money soonest more than their original share. Next, Congress added a small, partial-year allotment and changed the redistribution formula for a second time, aiming to prevent states from closing their CHIP programs as families gathered to celebrate the holidays.

Following this unprecedented gap in CHIP funding, Congress eventually redeemed itself – at least somewhat – by funding CHIP for ten years. The first 6 years of funding came on January 22, 2018 in the HEALTHY KIDS Act, and readers of SayAhhh! are already familiar with the highlights. An additional 4 years of funding followed in the ACCESS Act on February 8, 2018, and readers celebrated.

Both the HEALTHY KIDS and ACCESS Acts – like the short-term fixes in late 2017 – were attached to continuing resolutions (CRs). These short-term funding bills are typically pretty straightforward but this has been an atypical year for more than just CHIP. The four CRs that included changes to CHIP were sometimes short and relatively simple, but in the case of the ACCESS Act, the CHIP provisions comprised just a few pages of a much larger legislative package spanning 250 pages. It’s no surprise that even close watchers of Congress and CHIP got lost along the way.

Today we’re releasing a brief that summarizes the provisions related to CHIP as well as other extensions impacting children in low-income families included in the various bills since December. The brief, “HEALTHY KIDS and ACCESS Acts: Summary of Key Provisions Impacting Children,” describes the CHIP funding extensions, new federal matching and maintenance of effort rules, as well as other extensions like the pediatric quality measures and outreach and enrollment programs. Preliminary state funding allotments for federal fiscal year 2018 are laid out in Appendix A.

With long-term CHIP funding secured, states and child health stakeholders can breathe a sigh of relief. Rather than spending time and resources estimating when they’ll run out of money and making plans to close their programs, state CHIP directors can put their expertise to much better use identifying ways their programs can be improved to reach more children and deliver higher quality care.

You can download the full brief here.

The post was originally published on Say Ahhh! a health policy blog published by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.