WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined Crystal Lett, a central Ohio mother, on a news conference call to call on Congress to immediately extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), known as Healthy Start in Ohio. With Ohio set to run out of funding to support CHIP by the end of the year, the state is already starting to make contingency plans. In October, Brown’s bipartisan bill to extend funding for CHIP for five years passed the Senate Finance Committee, but Senate leadership has yet to take up the bill on the Senate floor.
“Because folks in Congress with taxpayer-funded healthcare haven’t done their jobs, Ohio families and their kids will pay the price,” said Brown. “We need to put politics aside, roll up our sleeves, and extend CHIP for families across Ohio.”
Brown was joined on the call by Crystal Lett, whose son Noble was born with a rare genetic disorder. While the Lett’s insurance plan would only cover part of Noble’s treatment, because of CHIP, Noble has access to the high-quality healthcare he deserves.
“CHIP allows working families to be able to provide standard of care treatments for their children that otherwise wouldn't be affordable. Kids are able to access the best medical care - insuring that they are able to be well and if they are ill, to get better. Because of better preventative care - available through CHIP, Noble has been able to avoid more costly, and more intrusive medical procedures,” said Ms. Lett.
CHIP, which was created in 1997, is a joint state-federal health insurance program for low to moderate income children and pregnant women who are not Medicaid eligible. Within three years of its initial passage, all 50 states opted into the program, providing millions with access to health insurance. Nationwide, CHIP provides access to comprehensive, affordable coverage to more than nine million children and Healthy Start helps cover more than 209,000 Ohioans.
Brown led efforts in the Senate to protect CHIP and the vital coverage it provides children and pregnant women nationwide in 2015. The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 extended funding for CHIP for two years, through September of 2017.
In September, Brown joined families in Cincinnati and Cleveland to call for funding extension for CHIP. Earlier this year, Brown also secured a commitment from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma to work with Brown on extending CHIP.
Brown was the lead sponsor of the Protecting and Retaining Our Children’s Health Insurance Program (PRO-CHIP) Act of 2015 in the Senate, which would have extended the program through 2019.