Two bipartisan measures designed to bring down Obamacare insurance premiums will be left outof a year-end spending bill after Republicans agreed with the partyleaders to let debate slip into next month.

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A vote on extending a program that provides health insurance tolow-income children will also likely slide into2018, even as several states face a funding squeeze that couldleave many families without coverage.

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Republican Senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Susan Collins of Maine said in a jointstatement that it’s clear Congress will only pass a short-termspending fix and, therefore, they will wait until early next yearfor their bills to be considered in a longer-term spending package.The White House has signaled its support for both measures.

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The senators said they will offer the bills “after the first ofthe year when the Senate will consider the omnibus spending bill,the Children’s Health Insurance Program reauthorization, fundingfor Community Health Centers, and other legislation that was tohave been enacted this week.”

Collins’ vote

The bills would fund Obamacare insurance subsidies known ascost-sharing reduction payments that help offset low-incomeAmericans’ health costs and provide money to help states set uphigh-risk insurance pools. Collins had sought to have the measuresbrought up by the end of this year as part of a deal to win hersupport for the Republican tax overhaul. The senator was worriedabout the effect on insurance premiums of a provision in the taxbill that repeals the Obamacare requirement that everyone haveheath insurance.

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Alexander and Collins said both measures would blunt the effecton rising premiums.

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“It’s hard to attach our bills to a year-end package whenthere’s not a year-end package,” Alexander said.

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Collins spoke to House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday morningand he expressed support for her high-risk pool proposal, possiblywith some changes. Vice President Mike Pence told Senate MajorityLeader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday while he was in the Capitol thathe and the president also are supportive.

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Some states are running out of money for the Children’s HealthInsurance Program, funding for which lapsed in September, and it’sunclear how they will fare if Congress doesn’t take up a five-yearreauthorization until next year.

A patch

The House will “probably” include a patch to help those statesavoid running out of money in the short-term spending measure, saidRepresentative Tom Cole, a Republican from Oklahoma. The patch isunlikely to include new funding but instead will be similar to amove Congress has made before to reallocate funds for the programfrom states that don’t run out until a later date to ones that needmoney sooner, Cole said.

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CHIP is a shared federal-state program that covers children ofparents who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough topay for private insurance. About 2 million of the 9 millionchildren covered through CHIP may lose coverage as soon as January,and another million could lose coverage in February, according toa reportfrom GeorgetownUniversity Health Policy Institute.

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In Alabama, health officials have warned that they won’ttake new enrollees in the state’s CHIP program effective Jan. 1 andthat children already enrolled could lose coverage Feb. 1.

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