Four months after expiring, funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was restored yesterday when Congress approved a short-term spending bill to end the three-day-old government shutdown. With the new deal, Republicans and Democrats now have three weeks to negotiate a long-term budget solution to keep the government from shuttering again on February 8. But this time, CHIP will no longer be available as a bargaining chip. As part of yesterday’s Continuing Resolution, the program is guaranteed funding for six years and won’t need reapproval until 2024.
CHIP provides health coverage for an estimated nine million kids across America and the uninsured rate of children has been cut in half since the program was established two decades ago. For most of its existence, CHIP has received bipartisan support, but the program failed to be renewed last September when Congressional Republicans tried to tie its funding extension to cuts in Obamacare and Medicaid. As the months passed, states began to run out of money to fund CHIP and if a deal had not been reached yesterday, as many as 1.7 million kids could have lost their health care.