WASHINGTON, D.C. – With federal funding that provides health care coverage to more than 130,000 children in Ohio 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. If Congress fails to act, funding for CHIP will lapse in September 2015, leaving millions of children and pregnant women nationwide, including thousands in Ohio, without health care coverage.
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, through 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.
“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.”
“Every child can succeed when given the chance. And when it comes to setting up a child for success, few things matter more than good health,” said Sandy Oxley, the CEO of Voices for Ohio’s Children. “By immediately renewing this proven bipartisan program, we can protect and build on our progress for the nation’s children, help Ohio as it contemplates the biennial budget, and ensure Ohio’s kids keep the coverage and quality care they need to reach their full potential. CHIP is designed with kids exclusively in mind—providing pediatrician-recommended services that children need to reach important developmental milestones—including dental, hearing, vision, and mental health care. We are hopeful that Congress acts fast to refund this program so that Ohio doesn’t lose $47 million in federal funds in 2016 alone.”
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 detailed section-by-section summary of the bill, click here.
In 2013, Ohio received $376 million in federal match dollars to help fund CHIP in the state. These federal dollars cover nearly 75 percent of the state’s expenditures for children between 156 and 206 percent of the federal poverty level.
For a county-by-county snapshot of the number Ohio children who rely on CHIP for health coverage, click here.