A three-day government shutdown ended yesterday with Congress agreeing to a short-term spending measure that would fund the government through February 8 via a continuing resolution (CR). The bill would also extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years. While the extension of CHIP is good news, the addition of CHIP to the CR will have a complicated impact on the reauthorization of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program.
How does the spending measure impact MIECHV?
After a long weekend of marathon negotiations in the Senate, the current agreement hinges on a promise from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that the Senate would take up a bi-partisan immigration package in the coming weeks- a promise that, if broken, could hamper future negotiations on a final spending package and continue to complicate matters. While there are still many possible ways for MIECHV to get reauthorized in the near term, the actual roadmap remains unclear.
In the past, MIECHV has been reauthorized alongside CHIP. Now MIECHV, along with other popular bipartisan “health extenders” such as the community health centers, remain unauthorized while CHIP has been extended.
Senate staff have assured stakeholders that MIECHV will likely be renewed in the coming weeks, leaving open the possibility that a larger health extender package could be attached to the spending deal that lawmakers expect to strike by February 8. Another possibility is a bill that could extend CHIP for an additional four years, leaving its total extension at 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that CHIP would save $1 billion if reauthorized for six years, and up to $6 billion if reauthorized for 10 years. Thus, an additional four-year extension could provide the funding needed to offset MIECHV and other health extenders.
We are hopeful that the passage of the CR is a sign of good things to come for MIECHV. If you have any questions about MIECHV or what you can do to help, feel free to contact us directly.