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White House Hopes to Expand CHIP Through 2016

The health reform blueprint unveiled by President Obama earlier this week is being described everywhere as an amalgamation of the Senate and House bills. When it comes to children’s coverage, though, that’s not quite the case.

While the House has proposed to scrap the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program in 2014, and the Senate offered two addition years of CHIP funding (through 2015), the White House goes a step further, proposing a funded CHIP extension through 2016.

The move drew quick praise from a number of children’s welfare advocates, who have warned for months that the House proposal to shift kids from CHIP into private exchange programs would hike costs on low-income families, thereby discouraging parents from buying coverage for their kids at all.

The Congressional Budget Office backed that claim, arguing that, as a result of that shift, “some of those children would be eligible for subsidized coverage in the exchanges but would not be enrolled in an exchange plan.”

Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, a kids advocacy group, said he’s “heartened” by the White House proposal.

After months of policy disputes over kids and health reform, we are pleased that President Obama has sided with children’s advocates, experts, actuaries, and the public on what is best for America’s children — the preservation of the highly successful Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Whether that proposal stands in the final bill has yet to be seen.

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