Key U.S. senators reach deal on funding children's health program

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Leaders of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee said on Tuesday they reached an agreement to finance a federal insurance program for millions of lower-income children and pregnant women that was due to expire at the end of the month.

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, chairman of the finance committee, and the panel’s top Democrat, Senator Ron Wyden, said in a statement the agreement would provide money for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for five years.

CHIP reauthorization is not typically contentious as the program receives bipartisan support. But lobbyists and industry officials have said any healthcare-related legislation has become more complicated following the failure of Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“I am hopeful we can move forward swiftly to ensure no lapse in care for our nation’s most vulnerable children,” Hatch said in a statement, calling the agreement “a good first start.”

Wyden said in a statement he hoped to get the extension of CHIP into law “as soon as possible.”