There remain a lot of moving parts in bicameral efforts to provide a stopgap funding bill for federal programs and agencies and avoid a government shutdown, which would otherwise begin at midnight on Friday. But unless things fall apart generally, it does appear that the ultimate bill will include at least $3 billion to keep the Children’s Health Care Program (CHIP) from running out of money in many states for a while, according to the Washington Examiner’s report on the measure the House is expected to vote on today:
The continuing resolution released early Thursday morning gives CHIP $2.85 billion in new funding through the end of March. It also includes $750 million in new money for community health centers and a special diabetes program that also are short on funds …
Several states have needed redistributed funding from the federal government to keep CHIP programs running, although a majority will start to run out early next year.
Assuming the Senate goes along (and it should, since support for CHIP is stronger in that chamber, and extends to leading Republicans), this action will postpone a chronic battle between House Republicans — who want offsetting cuts to safety-net programs to pay for a five-year CHIP reauthorization — and Senate Republicans less inclined to take the very popular program hostage.
This is good news, for the moment at least, for parents of the nine million kids who receive health insurance through CHIP.
And it also temporarily removes a major source of embarrassment for one of the original architects of CHIP, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, whose state is one of those on the edge of running out of money entirely for the program.
Yes, it’s still maddening that Congress prioritized an unpopular and unnecessary tax cut targeted to wealthy people over working out a deal to safeguard CHIP. But it’s still good news that the people who run or rely on the program can get through the holidays without disaster — assuming that at this point members of Congress can find their butts with both hands and seal a funding deal before tomorrow night.