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From Health Law Daily, December 8, 2017

Appropriations Act would keep agencies running, redistribute CHIP allocations . . . for now

By Kelly J. Rooney, J.D., M.P.H.

Congress kicked the can down the road by passing the "Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2018" through both chambers. The joint resolution would prevent a government shutdown and fund the federal government by extending the expiration date of the FY 2018 Continuing Resolution (CR), as well as keep the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) running. But there’s a catch—it is only for another two weeks. It now awaits Trump’s signature, but the President supports the effort according to the White House.

What it would do. The joint resolution would change the expiration date of the CR from December 8 to December 22, 2017, and provide funding for federal agencies through either that date or the enactment of appropriations legislation. When the CR expires, so does agency funding since appropriations bills have not been enacted.

States are currently running out of CHIP funds, and funding will run out in January without action (see Will Congress deliver coal or tax reform to Oval Office for holidays?, December 1, 2017). In the meantime, however, the joint resolution amends Social Security Act sec. 2104(f)(2) to allow for the redistribution of unused CHIP allotments to "emergency shortfall states" for the first quarter of the 2018 fiscal year (October 1 through December 31, 2017). CMS would redistribute unused funds to states equal to their emergency shortfall before distributing to states with a nonemergency shortfall.

What it wouldn’t do. No additional CHIP allotments are provided, nor is the CHIP program extended, under the resolution. No allotments to federal agencies are made. It is still up to Congress to pass appropriations bills providing for funding, as "Congress is ultimately responsible for reaching a compromise that keeps the government open into next year," the White House release noted. The resolution still needs the President’s signature, and in the meantime, the clock is ticking.

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