WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce legislation to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as Healthy Start in Ohio, for five years. The bipartisan deal to extend CHIP for five years was struck by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee, on which Brown sits. The bipartisan bill will still have to be taken up and passed by the full Senate.   

“Securing access to high-quality healthcare for all children was an important bipartisan effort,” said Brown. “I’m proud to be working with my colleagues to continue that bipartisan effort and extend CHIP, giving Ohio families the assurance that their children’s healthcare will be protected for years to come. I will continue working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle as we work to pass this legislation.”

Here’s what other Ohio organizations are saying:

“During these uncertain times, Congress should reassure families and states that they can rely on the federal government to back up its commitment to children’s health care by extending CHIP for five years,” said Brandi Slaughter, CEO of Voices for Ohio’s Children.

“Families and children impacted by mental illness face serious challenges every day because of these devastating health conditions.  NAMI Ohio commends the bipartisan efforts of Senator Brown and Chairman Hatch to continue to fund SCHIP for another 5 years!  In Ohio, that means that literally thousands of kids will have access to a full range of Medicaid State Plan Services, including a comprehensive package of mental health services.  Access to mental health care saves lives and families, so this is a big deal for those we represent,” said Terry Russell, Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Health Ohio.

“The Ohio Children’s Hospital Association applauds the U.S. Senate Finance Committee for its leadership proposing a five-year extension for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and we call on Congress to fund this critical program before its Sept. 30 deadline. Healthy children grow up to become healthy adults, and CHIP helps ensure that the children covered by it are able to reach their full potential. If enacted into law, the Finance Committee leaders’ agreement provides stability to both Ohio and the nearly 220k children in our state who rely on the program,” said Nick Lashutka, President of the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association.

Earlier this month, Brown met with families in Cincinnati and Cleveland to call on Congress to pass a five-year extension of CHIP. Both the Ohio Department of Medicaid and the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association have written in support of a five-year extension.

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 eight million children and Healthy Start helps cover more than 209,000 Ohioans. 

Brown led efforts in the Senate to protect CHIP and Healthy Ohio and the vital coverage they provide children and pregnant women nationwide. The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 extended funding for CHIP for two years, through September of 2017.

Earlier this year, Brown secured a commitment from Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price 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.