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  • Washington Highlights

    Lawmakers End Shutdown and Extend CHIP, But Fail to Negotiate DACA Agreement

    Matthew Shick, Sr. Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs

    Following a three day shutdown of the federal government, President Trump Jan. 22 signed another continuing resolution (P.L. 115-120, CR) passed by Congress earlier that day to reopen federal agencies through Feb. 8 [see Washington Highlights, Jan. 19]. In addition to the short-term funding agreement, the CR reauthorizes federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years and maintains the enhanced federal matching rate for two years.

    In a Jan. 22 statement on the CR, AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, said, ““We are pleased that the House and Senate have voted to reopen the government and strongly applaud Congress for reauthorizing the CHIP program and restoring stability for the almost nine million children that program serves. Now that lawmakers have taken these important steps, the AAMC hopes that they will turn their attention to providing the same stability for other important programs that serve America’s patients.”

    Dr. Kirch highlights uncertainty around funding levels for health care programs and medical research, such as the National Institutes of Health, and programs not addressed by the CR, including Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments. He continues, “Congress also has missed another opportunity to extend funding for the National Health Service Corps and Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education, putting underserved communities at risk of losing current and future providers.” [see Washington Highlights, Nov. 3, 2017]

    In exchange for the CR, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agreed to hold a vote on legislation to address the expiration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program before Feb. 8. Since passing the CR, Senators have negotiated a DACA package amongst themselves and with President Trump, but have failed to reach a deal. While there is general support for allowing Dreamers to remain in the U.S., disagreement continues on funding for border security and a wall. Meanwhile, House Republicans have not committed to hold a vote on DACA legislation passed by the Senate.

    In his statement, Dr. Kirch noted that “medical students and residents with DACA status face growing uncertainty each day that lawmakers fail to pass a permanent legislative remedy that will allow them to finish their education and training” [see Washington Highlights, Dec. 15, 2017].