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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, November 04, 2017 1:00 am

House OKs funding kids' health program

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Legislation providing five more years of financing for an expired children's health program won House approval Friday, but a partisan battle over paying for the extension seemed certain to delay the bill in the Senate. Each side is using the fight to accuse the other of jeopardizing a program that serves more than 8 million low-income children.

Fresh federal money for the Children's Health Insurance Plan stopped Wednesday. States are continuing to use unspent funds, but Arizona, California, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon and the District of Columbia are among those expected to deplete that money by late December or in January.

Indiana's CHIP program is called Hoosier Healthwise. According to the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, coverage for 115,000 Indiana children is at risk if current-level CHIP funding isn't renewed.

Republicans want to pay for the extension in part by cutting a public health program created under former President Barack Obama's health care law and raising Medicare premiums on upper-income recipients. They say it makes sense to trim some health programs to beef up others and said wealthy Medicare recipients could easily afford higher premiums.

Democrats opposed both and most of them voted no Friday. They say cutting the public health program would reduce money for providing vaccines and opioid abuse efforts, and charging top earners more for Medicare would prompt many of them to drop their coverage. They say that would undermine Medicare finances and erode political support for it.