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House Health Reform Bill Repeals Popular CHIP Program

Not even nine months after President Obama, with much fanfare, signed into law a five year, $33 billion reauthorization of the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, House Democrats have proposed to dismantle it.

Under the $894 billion health reform legislation that House leaders unveiled last week, CHIP would cease to exist at the end of 2013, with kids enrolled in the program transitioning to plans on a proposed insurance exchange.

The move is raising concerns in the children’s advocacy realm, with some groups worried that higher costs on the exchange will prevent some kids from receiving health care.

In the Senate, Democratic leaders had also proposed to kill the CHIP program, but the program was salvaged by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), whose amendment preserving CHIP was passed by the Senate Finance Committee last month.

The House is expected to take up its health reform bill this week, with the Senate to follow later in the month. If those bills pass, the gaping disparity in approaches to the CHIP program will leave the fate of the program in the hands of the conference negotiators representing each chamber. Expect fireworks.

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