Washington Update

Children’s Health Insurance Program Extension Act of 2014 Introduced

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On June 11, 2014, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced S. 2461, the “Children’s Health Insurance Program Extension Act of 2014.” Unless funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program is extended, the program will expire September 30, 2015, at the end of next fiscal year. Approximately 43 million children under the age of 21 have dental coverage through Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

According to the press release provided by Sen. Rockefeller, the bill, as introduced, would:

  • Cover former foster children to age 26, even if they change their state of residence;
  • Enroll newborns automatically, as is already done in Medicaid;
  • Improve access to preventive services, most notably immunizations and screenings not currently covered by the program;
  • Make Express Lane Eligibility permanent to maximize enrollment of eligible children and pregnant women;
  • Facilitate smoother tracking and administration of cost-sharing requirements;
  • Create better transitions between CHIP, Medicaid and qualified health plans;
  • Build on pediatric quality measures that already exist in CHIP;
  • Extend the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program, which is set to expire in 2015;
  • Extend demonstration programs focusing on perinatal care coordination and childhood obesity; and
  • Replace CHIP’s current contingency fund with a shortfall fund that will more efficiently allocate funding to states experiencing shortfalls, making it easier for states in need to access these dollars without increasing government spending.

According to the senator, the draft legislation would provide states with new options and increased flexibility, principally by updating performance incentives for improvements to the program, which would allow states to offer improved dental services and oral care. His bill also includes provisions designed to expand coverage. The program would be extended through FY19. Currently, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides for pediatric dental services as one of 10 essential health benefits that health plans in the small group and individual markets must cover.

This is currently not scheduled for congressional action. Sen. Rockefeller is the chairman of the Health Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over the legislation; however, he announced his retirement effective the end of this year.

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