It’s been 103 days since the Republican Congress allowed funding to expire for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and community health centers, and the only thing those Republicans have done about it is to pass a Band-Aid of $2.85 billion in temporary funding. That funding will not prevent some states from having to shutter programs starting as early as next month.
That’s despite the fact that Congress has heard from the Congressional Budget Office that, now they’ve gotten rid of the individual mandate in Obamacare, extending CHIP for five years would cost basically nothing. Kaiser Family Foundation’s Larry Levitt has the most succinct explanation for that interaction: “Without CHIP, many kids (and their parents) would end up in subsidized marketplace coverage. That coverage is now going to cost the federal government more because the individual mandate was repealed. So, extending CHIP saves money.”
Parents will go without insurance if they can get their kids covered, essentially. So the government won’t have to pay more money in subsidies for the parents AND the kids. It’s perverted, but it works. And now it works even better, according to the very latest from the CBO at the request of Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), evaluating his CHIP extension bill.
At your request, the Congressional Budget Office and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have completed a preliminary estimate of the budgetary effects of extending funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for 10 years using specifications provided by your staff. Under those specifications, the provisions of S. 1827, the Keep Kids’ Insurance Dependable and Secure Act of 2017 (KIDS Act), would be extended. In particular, all of the provisions that would be in place in 2022, the final year of funding under that Act, would continue unchanged for the remainder of the 2023-2027 period. The agencies estimate that enacting such legislation would decrease the deficit by $6.0 billion over the 2018- 2027 period.
Yes, extending CHIP for ten years doesn’t only not cost anything, it decreases the deficit by $6 billion. That means there doesn’t need to be anything at all traded for extending CHIP for five—or ten—years. They don’t need to find other things to cut in order to do this. They’ve already taken care of that.
There is absolutely no reason for Republican leadership to not immediately take up a clean funding bill for CHIP. Except for the fact that they’re all leaving town Thursday afternoon for the long MLK Holiday weekend. Because priorities.
Jam the phone lines of House and Senate Republicans. Call (202) 224-3121, and tell them to stop holding kids hostage and to pass a clean funding bill for CHIP and community health centers.