Congress passes short-term funding bill, includes CHIP patch: 5 things to know

Congress approved a short-term funding bill Thursday, averting a government shutdown and authorizing a patch for the Children's Health Insurance Program through the end of the year.

Here are five things to know about the bill and how it will affect CHIP.

1. The bill extends funding for federal agencies through Dec. 22 or until another appropriations bill is passed. It passed 81-14 in the Senate and 235-193 in the House —just in time to avert a government shutdown on Friday. The bill now heads to President Donald Trump for signature.

2. The bill also includes a special rule to reallocate any remaining CHIP funds through the first quarter of fiscal 2018, which ends Dec. 31, to states with emergency shortfalls. The bill does not authorize additional funding for CHIP.

3. The rule lifts restrictions on the way unused CHIP funds can be allocated. It allows CMS to give states with emergency shortfalls funds before paying out states with nonemergency shortfalls. Stopgap funds come from remaining funds for fiscal year 2017 and unused funds from prior years.

4. "Emergency shortfall states" are defined as any state in which CMS estimates CHIP expenditures from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31 will exceed the money the state has left for the program. States can be considered emergency shortfall states even if they have already received redistribution funds. Nine states already received some emergency funding as of Dec. 6, according to Kaiser Family Foundation.

5. Additional funds are limited. As noted by KFF, once redistribution funds are exhausted, the federal government cannot make any additional payments to states for CHIP until a bill is passed to reauthorize the program. "Under current law, there are no appropriations for providing FY 2018 CHIP allotments to states and there is limited funding from previous fiscal years available to fund a portion of CHIP expenditures in FY 2018," Brian Neale, director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, wrote in a November bulletin.


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