The House of Representatives Nov. 3 passed legislation (H.R. 3922) by a vote of 242 to 174 that will extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), community health center funding, and several other Medicare extenders. The bill will also delay the Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) cuts, scheduled to go into effect Oct. 1, by two years.
The underlying policies included in the legislation enjoy bipartisan support. However, both parties do not agree on how to pay for the bill. In particular, the bill is offset by cuts to the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which Democrats have opposed.
The bill proposes to extend CHIP for five years and extend funding for two-years for key workforce programs administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) – the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program.
In a Nov. 1 statement, AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, expressed his gratitude towards members from both sides of the aisle for their support of the underlying programs included in the bill, stating, “As the process moves forward, the AAMC stands ready to work with all parties and stakeholders on these important priorities.” He also highlighted the importance of delaying the scheduled DSH cuts, noting, “Without a delay, DSH hospitals will face a cut of $2 billion in FY 2018 which would hamper services to our most vulnerable patients and weaken the safety net.”
Whether this legislation prompts the Senate to renew its efforts on CHIP and Medicare extenders remains to be seen. Pundits have suggested that should the legislation fail, CHIP and other extenders may be pushed to a larger year-end package.