Tipton: Setting the record straight on rescissions and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (column)
May 22, 2018
For the past decade, the national debt has been increasing at an alarming rate, while billions of dollars sit in unused accounts across the federal government, in many cases no longer legally eligible to be used.
President Donald Trump recently requested that Congress rescind more than $15 billion in previously appropriated, but unobligated, funding that is just sitting in these unused accounts. This request is not an unprecedented one. Since 1974, both Republican and Democratic presidents have proposed rescissions to federal spending.
The president sent Congress a proposed rescissions package on Tuesday, May 8, and almost immediately, there was misinformation and confusion surrounding the package and the impact it would have on the Children's Health Insurance Program, otherwise known as CHIP. I want to set the record straight on this matter and bring peace of mind to Coloradans who might be worried about the future of this program. The rescissions package will in no way impact the delivery of CHIP.
CHIP is a critical program that helps families who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to be able to afford private health insurance. It is the reason that 75,000 children across Colorado and 9 million children across the nation receive critical health care services, such as doctor's appointments, prescriptions and immunizations. I have always recognized this program's importance and supported its funding.
Unfortunately, funding for CHIP came dangerously close to running out last year, when a majority of Senate Democrats decided to use children's health care as a political football, voting to block both short- and long-term extensions of CHIP funding because they had made unrelated demands that were not met in each bill. The situation was so dire that letters were sent out to Coloradan families who rely on CHIP for their children's health care, urging them to look for other coverage options.
Despite this opposition and with significant pressure, we eventually were able to pass a six-year extension of CHIP through the Senate, which was subsequently signed into law. This was the longest and most generous extension in CHIP's 20-year history, with the program authorized at $21.5 billion for fiscal year 2018 and gradual increases made in 2022 and 2023. A month after this initial extension, my colleagues and I passed the Bipartisan Budget Act, which extended CHIP for an additional four years.
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Trump's rescission proposal has two provisions that are related to CHIP, but neither will impact the delivery of the program. One provision will simply rescind funds that can't be spent because the authority to do so expired last year. The other provision will rescind $1.9 billion from the CHIP Contingency Fund, which provides payments to states that have higher than expected CHIP enrollment.
Currently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services do not foresee that any state will require a Contingency Fund payment this year. Additionally, the rescissions proposal would not rescind all funding for the Contingency Fund, meaning that if a state needed to qualify for a payment in the future, its needs would still be met.
I am proud of my record of unwavering support for the Children's Health Insurance Program, which has been demonstrated through letters to House leadership and votes on the House floor. I will continue to support CHIP because all of America's children deserve access to quality health care. This rescissions package does not contradict that support and, if passed, would not impact the delivery of CHIP.
U.S. Rep. Scott R. Tipton represents Colorado's 3rd Congressional District.
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