Congress continues to mull over CHIP reauthorization weeks after deadline

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The Children’s Health Insurance Program remains in limbo as Congress mulls over funding. The program covers millions of kids nationwide who don’t qualify for Medicaid, and don’t have private or employer coverage. Sept. 30 was the deadline to extend the program before funding begins to dry up. As lawmakers continue their search for a solution, a child health expert says action is needed soon.

Jim Kaufman says there are policy agreements, lawmakers now just need to get an extension passed.

“Do it now. That’s the message we need to give Congress,” said Jim Kaufman, vice president of Public Policy at the Children’s Hospital Association.

He says Congress missing the extension deadline for the program isn’t the end of the world, but they need to act quickly before funding runs out in certain states.

“We have a lot of agreement in the policy of what they want to do. It’s now simply a matter of doing it,” said Kaufman.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is hashing out logistics for the program reauthorization. Rep. GK Butterfield (D-NC) sits on the committee and says Republicans are trying to use funding for other programs to extend CHIP as a way to dismantle “Obamacare.”

“Republicans are going to let it fall to the wayside unless we can get a bipartisan solution to the reauthorization,” said Butterfield.

Republicans say Democrats are standing in the way of reauthorizing the program. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) also sits on the committee and says he wants to be responsible with taxpayer money.

“We want to make sure it’s one, paid for, and two it has reforms to it to make it sustainable for years to come,” said Mullin.

Mullin says both sides of the aisle are in agreement with the policy, it is simply a question of funding appropriately. He says he doesn’t want to add to the national debt with this program.

“If they want to work with us this time...it’s about our kids. We want to work with them,” said Mullin.

As of now there is no CHIP extension vote on the schedule, though lawmakers are confident it will happen soon.

Read the original version of this article at www.graydc.com.