A bipartisan deal in the House to fund the Children's Health Insurance Program looks dim as a top Democrat accused Republicans using the program to hurt Obamacare and Medicare.
Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said Friday that Republicans are not budging in new bipartisan talks on how to fund the program. The remarks come after President Trump took several moves Democrats say "sabotage" Obamacare.
Pallone said that it is "clear" that House Republicans want to use CHIP and a two-year reauthorization of funding for community health centers to undermine Obamacare and weaken Medicare.
"Republicans remain fixated on sabotaging the [Affordable Care Act] any way they can," he said in a statement. "I reject the premise that we can only offer healthcare to children by taking it away from others, and, to date, Republicans refuse to budget in that regard."
House lawmakers on Energy and Commerce have been engaged in a bitter dispute over how to fund the five-year reauthorization of CHIP and the health centers.
Republicans included funding offsets of charging wealthy seniors more for Medicare, taking money from an Obamacare disease prevention fund and shortening the grace period for Obamacare enrollees to pay premiums before insurance gets cut off.
Democrats balked at those funding offsets. Committee member Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., told the Washington Examiner earlier this week that they were nonstarters.
The House committee eventually passed the CHIP reauthorization bill on Oct. 4 by a party-line vote, an unusual step for a program that traditionally garners bipartisan support.
But committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., did not send the bill to the full House floor. Instead, he reopened bipartisan talks in the hopes of reaching a new deal on the funding.
Walden set a deadline to get a deal by the end of this week, and if no deal is reached then he will just send the original bill to the House floor. Pallone told the Washington Examiner earlier this week that they could have more time as the House is out next week.
The Senate Finance Committee passed its own version of CHIP reauthorization by a near unanimous vote, but that package didn't include offsets. The Senate remains in talks on how to fund the program.
Pallone's statement comes a day after Trump signed an executive order to loosen Obamacare insurer rules and cut off Obamacare insurer payments, acts that Democrats called sabotage.
"This week, the president has acted maliciously to jeopardize the healthcare of millions of Americans and House Republicans are simply following the president's lead in looking for any opportunity to sabotage the ACA," Pallone said.
The committee did not return a request for comment as of press time on Pallone's statement or the status of the bipartisan talks.
CHIP expired on Sept. 30 but the earliest states will start running out of money is late November.