With Federal Funding for the Health Coverage of More Than 10 Million Children Set to Expire, Sens. Brown, Stabenow, Wyden, Casey Introduce Legislation to Extend The Children’s Health Insurance Program

Legislation Would Prevent More Than 10 Million Kids Nationwide, Including More Than 130,000 Ohio Children, From Losing Health Care Coverage; Without Action, CHIP Funding Will Expire in September

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With federal funding that provides health care coverage to more than 10 million children nationwide through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) set to expire, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today introduced legislation that would extend CHIP funding through 2019. Introducing this bill with Brown are: U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, Bob Casey (D-PA), and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). If Congress fails to extend funding for CHIP, funding for the program will lapse in September 2015, leaving millions of children and pregnant women nationwide, including thousands in Ohio, without access to affordable, comprehensive health care coverage.

“We can’t turn our backs on health coverage that allows children to grow into healthy, active adults,” Brown said. “Since its creation in 1997, the Children’s Health Insurance Program has provided affordable, comprehensive health care for children who might not otherwise have access to coverage. This lifeline program has cut the number of uninsured children in half and has garnered broad bipartisan support. But now, despite its success in Ohio and nationwide, CHIP’s future is in jeopardy – as is the health and well-being of our kids. It’s clear that letting this program expire is not an option. I hope my colleagues will join me in doing the right thing for our kids and extend CHIP funding without delay.”

The Protecting & Retaining Our Children’s Health Insurance Program Act of 2015 (PRO-CHIP), which Brown introduced today, would extend funding for CHIP through 2019, consistent with its current authorization. Without action, federal funding for CHIP will expire in September 2015. This would jeopardize the health care coverage of 130,000 Ohioans, and more than 10 million children and pregnant women nationwide. Ohio could lose out on up to an estimated $146 million in federal funds in 2016 alone if Congress allows CHIP’s funding to expire.

“Ten million children will lose their health insurance within months if Congress doesn’t maintain funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program,” said Stabenow. “We need to come together right away to ensure these critical health services are not eliminated. Children and parents across America are counting on us.”

“The Children’s Health Insurance Program provides a crucial lifeline to more than 10 million children, ensuring they have access to comprehensive, affordable health care,” said Wyden, the Senate Finance Committee’s ranking Democrat. “Congress must renew this program as soon as possible so kids and families who depend on CHIP – including 128,000 kids in Oregon – won’t fall through the cracks. The four-year extension in the Protecting & Retaining Our Children’s Health Insurance Program (PRO-CHIP) Act of 2015 achieves that goal in a strong, common-sense way that deserves bipartisan support.” 

“The CHIP program is a remarkable story highlighting how a public-private partnership can successfully provide health insurance to millions of children.  Modeled on a program initially started in Pennsylvania, the federal CHIP program has played an important role in decreasing the number of uninsured children,” Casey said. “This popular program provides health insurance to roughly 270,000 children throughout Pennsylvania each year. We must ensure that CHIP continues to be there for them.”

“This extension of CHIP is necessary to ensure children across Nevada and our country get the health care they need,” said Reid. “No child should be denied the access to medicine when they are sick or checkups to stay healthy. Nevada’s current CHIP program, known as Nevada Check-Up, covers over 20,000 children, not passing this extension would be irresponsible and would place our children’s wellbeing at risk. I hope my fellow Senators will recognize the importance of this bill and ensure it is swiftly passed.”

Also cosponsoring the bill are: Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), and U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ed Markey (D-MA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Mark Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

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. Underscoring the need for Congressional action, 40 governors – including Ohio governor John Kasich – sent letters last year to Congressional representatives urging swift action to extend the current program. The need for prompt federal action is crucial as states begin the process of constructing their annual budgets.

In addition to extending CHIP funding for four years, the PRO-CHIP Act also extends other critical components of the program. Specifically, the bill would:

  • Extend the CHIP contingency fund to protect states that may experience a funding shortfall;
  • Extend and update the Performance Incentive and Pediatric Quality Measures Programs;
  • Extend the Qualifying State Option;
  • Extend the CHIP obesity and quality demonstrations;
  • Extend outreach and enrollment grants; and
  • Extend authority for the express lane option and SNAP waiver authority for streamlined eligibility determinations.

For a section-by-section summary of the bill, click here.

 

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