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House Passes Children’s Health Bill, Sending Measure to Senate

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to reauthorize a health insurance program for low-income children, sending the legislation to the Senate.

The bill would reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program for five years, after which Congress will have to reconsider it. It passed the House by a vote of 242-174 on Friday.

CHIP covers children from low-income families under Medicaid even if their parents don’t qualify for the state-federal health insurance program themselves. It has enjoyed largely bipartisan support since it was enacted in 1997, and covers about 8 million U.S. children, according to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The proposal will also extend funding for community health centers and several other health programs.

It’s funded by taking money from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a program under the Affordable Care Act that finances public health efforts and tries to improve quality of care. It also limits federal subsidies to Medicare beneficiaries making more than $500,000.

Along with the reauthorization of the CHIP program, the bill would provide $1 billion for the Medicaid programs in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which have run short of funding. It also ends some cuts to payments to hospitals that treat a larger share of patients without health insurance or who have trouble paying their bills.

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