Hatch leads bipartisan CHIP reauthorization bill to continue children’s health coverage

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced a bill on Monday to continue providing stable health care coverage to children through extending funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for five years.

With funding for the current CHIP program expiring on Sept. 30, Hatch and U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Keeping Kids’ Insurance Dependable and Secure (KIDS) Act, S. 1827.

“Introducing this legislation is an important next step toward ensuring uninterrupted funding for CHIP, providing much-needed certainty for the vulnerable children and families who rely on this critical program for health coverage,” said Hatch, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

CHIP provides low-cost health coverage to children in families that cannot afford private coverage but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. CHIP covered 8.9 million children in fiscal year 2016, according to data from Medicaid.gov.

The legislation would transition CHIP to its traditional federal-state funding partnership and provide flexibility for states. Under the bill, the federal matching rate for CHIP would be maintained at current statutory levels through FY 2019, change to 11.5 percent for FY 2020, and return to the traditional CHIP matching rate for FY 2021 and 2022.

“This strong, bipartisan CHIP bill ensures that children and their families will have good health care and states will have the certainty they need for years to come,” said Wyden, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee.

Speaking during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Sept. 7, Hatch said inaction by Congress on CHIP would cause unpredictability for states that have to administer the program. “Of course, this anxiety will pale in comparison to the uncertainty families who rely on CHIP will be faced with if Congress doesn’t act,” he added.

Hatch on Monday pledged to continue working on the issue with lawmakers in both the Senate and House. “… We will push to advance this initiative and ensure the continued health care coverage for American children,” he said.