WASHINGTON — Senate bargainers have reached agreement to extend financing for the children’s health insurance program for five years, and approval of the deal would avert an end-of-month cash crunch for the popular initiative.

In a concession to Republicans, the agreement late Tuesday would phase out extra federal dollars that have gone to states since the additional money was mandated as part of former President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law.

Money for the federal-state program is due to expire at the end of September. The program provides health coverage to around 8 million low-income children and pregnant women.

It was initially unclear how the agreement would fare in the Senate and the House.

But the two negotiators — Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and that panel’s top Democrat, Ron Wyden of Oregon — work closely with party leaders. In addition, having embarrassingly failed in this year’s attempt to repeal Obama’s health law, Republicans and President Donald Trump are eager for an accomplishment and would be unlikely to stymie the continuation of such a widely supported initiative.

It was also unclear if the agreement would advance quickly and by itself through Congress, or become a vehicle for other, less widely backed legislation.

In a written statement, Hatch said “Congress needs to act quickly” to extend the program.

Without providing detail, Hatch said the agreement would give states “increased flexibility” to run the program. He said lawmakers will “continue to advance this agreement in a way that does not add to the deficit,” suggesting that a compromise on how to pay for the extra funds may have not yet been found.

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Source:: The Denver Post – News

Will Senate bargainers’ deal on children’s health insurance program pass?

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