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Letter to House, Senate Leadership Urges Bipartisan Solution to Funding CHIP

Dec 8, 2017
Press Release
Nearly 100 House member sign missive advocating urgent action to keep kids nationwide insured

Washington, DC – Nearly 100 members of Congress, led by Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO), André Carson (D-IN) and Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), today sent letters to top House and Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle urging bipartisan cooperation in finding a way to responsibly extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which was allowed to lapse on September 30.

“CHIP is a critical program that provides health coverage to millions of children and must be reauthorized immediately,” the lawmakers wrote to House Speaker Paul Ryan. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “It does not make sense, however, to pass any legislation that simultaneously harms children and families by undermining other important health programs. No one should have to lose coverage for others to maintain it.”

The House has passed partisan a bill that further funds CHIP at the expense of other health programs for America’s vulnerable populations; Senate legislation has not yet come up for a vote. The letter signed by 99 House members, advocates immediately renewing CHIP funding while simultaneously protecting the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid and other health programs that Americans rely on to stay healthy, see a doctor and get the care they need.

“CHIP has a long history of bipartisan support,” it noted. “Unfortunately, the recent bill passed by the House deviated from this commendable legacy. … This bill weakens coverage for too many Americans, cutting funding for financial assistance for middle- and working-class Americans who purchase subsidized coverage in the Marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act. It also reduces the Prevention and Public Fund by more than $6 billion, crippling programs that improve access to vaccines for children, opioid treatment, youth suicide programs, and diabetes prevention services. There is broad, bipartisan agreement on a policy to extend CHIP for five years, but neither chamber of Congress has yet scheduled a vote to do so without also including policies that would undermine care for millions of Americans.”

Nine million children across the country rely on CHIP, which has played a fundamental role in lowering the uninsured rate among children from 25 percent in 1997 to less than five percent today.  CHIP provides comprehensive, low-cost health coverage for services including routine check-ups, immunizations, doctor visits, prescriptions, dental and vision care, and emergency services.

With the expiration of federal funding for CHIP at September’s end, many states that have since temporarily turned to reserves or other resources are now preparing to terminate children’s health coverage. Families across the season are starting the holiday season with notices in the mail that they may lose CHIP coverage.

A copy of the letter is here, and the text is below.