While the most recent continuing resolution passed by the Senate and House included funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, and its 8.9 million enrollees until 2023, other health care programs remain at risk until a final resolution of the budget standoff.
ACP expressed relief that Congress passed this resolution that terminated the federal government shutdown, noting that CHIP, along with Medicaid, is a high-quality, cost-effective coverage option that has reduced the number of uninsured children by 68%.
But Congress’ work is far from over, according to ACP. The continuing resolution extended funding for the federal government only through Feb. 8. As Congress continues to develop final appropriations bills, the ACP urges them to prioritize funding for critical health care programs.
The National Health Service Corps, the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program and Community Health Centers need to be reauthorized, according to ACP. These programs provide necessary resources to vulnerable and underserved communities across the United States, according to ACP.
“While other residency programs base training out of hospitals, the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) THCGME program focuses on training in community-based primary care settings, such as Federally Qualified Health Centers, Rural Health Clinics and Tribal health centers, which prioritize care for underserved communities,” Martin Kramer, director of communications for HRSA, told Healio Internal Medicine.
“That’s important because we know that training tomorrow’s physician workforce in rural and other community-based settings is more likely to produce providers who will ultimately serve these high-need areas later in their career,” he continued.
The ACP expressed concern that no increase in budget caps for non-defense spending was contained in the bill, leaving all other spending subject to sequestration.
Moreover, the ACP noted that although the Senate has agreed to discuss legislation to secure protection for those covered by Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and offer them permanent legal residency and citizenship, it is not guaranteed. The ACP emphasized the importance of a permanent solution for these Dreamers, who include many medical students and training physicians, and urged Congress to pass a bill that protects such individuals and for President Donald J. Trump to sign it into law.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) also applauded the reauthorization of CHIP, noting that it will help provide much needed mental health services to low-income children and adolescents.
“Early access to quality evidence-based mental health services and treatment is critical for children and adolescents facing mental health challenges,” Saul Levin, MD, MPA, CEO and medical director of the APA, said in a press release. “Extension of the CHIP program will provide access to mental health care services for low-income children and youth who otherwise might not have access to care.”