Will Congress Save the Children's Health Insurance Program?

As Congress debates the future of the Affordable Care Act, will lawmakers forget about the kids?

Federal funding for the Clinton-era Children’s Health Insurance Program runs out at the end of September, and its supporters fear the bitter ideological divide around Obamacare could threaten a bipartisan consensus in support of a law that insures nearly 9 million kids nationwide. “We’re very worried, because this debate is going to drag on for some time,” said Bruce Lesley, CEO of First Focus, a group that advocates on behalf of children and families. Now 20 years old, CHIP provides coverage for low- and moderate-income families through policies administered by the states with matching funds from the federal government.

In an indication of just how much legislative oxygen the Affordable Care Act is consuming on Capitol Hill, the Senate Finance Committee postponed indefinitely a hearing it had scheduled for Tuesday on the future of CHIP as soon as House Republicans passed their bill last week to partially repeal and replace the much broader health law. Aides in both parties said that senators were concerned that the policy fight over the American Health Care Act—and in particular its deep cuts to Medicaid—would dominate the forum instead.

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