WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Finance Committee today passed U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)’s bill to extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), known as Healthy Start in Ohio, for five years. Brown introduced the bipartisan bill with leaders of the Senate Finance Committee, on which Brown sits, last month ahead of CHIP’s expiration. Now the bill must clear the full Senate.

“CHIP matters to thousands of Ohio kids and their families who gets care through CHIP,” said Brown. “This bipartisan cooperation is exactly how Congress should work on behalf of those we serve. I urge leadership to bring the bill to the floor so we can protect this important healthcare, and give CHIP families the peace of mind that their child will continue to be covered.”

Last 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 former 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.