Senator Sherrod Brown set to Introduce Legislation to Provide Health Insurance to Children Most in Need
Bill would extend funding of the CHIP program funding, which is set to expire in September 2015
January 30, 2015 02:18 PM
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – a member of the powerful Senate Finance Committee – visited Dayton Children’s Hospital earlier this week to announce a plan that would extend funding to provide health coverage to more than 130,000 children in his home state of Ohio, and millions nationwide. Senator Brown announced that he will become the lead sponsor of legislation to extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which is currently set to expire in September.
“Providing health insurance to low-income children isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do,” said Senator Brown during his hospital visit. “CHIP provides more than 130,000 Ohio children the ability to grow into healthy adults through affordable health insurance. As states begin the process of budgeting for the next fiscal year, they need the financial certainty that federal funds will be there to help fund this crucial program. If Congress doesn’t act, Ohio stands to lose up to $146 million in federal funds in 2016 alone. That’s why I am calling on Congress to pass a funding extension for this program immediately.”
CHIP was created in 1997 as 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. Unlike Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, which were set up as entitlement programs that weren’t subjected to periodic reauthorization by Congress or Congress’ discretionary spending appropriations process, CHIP does need to be reauthorized and funded through Congress. While the program is currently authorized through 2019, its funding is set to expire at the end of 2015.
Underscoring the need for Congressional action, 39 governors – including Ohio’s Republican 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.
On the Congressional level, both Democrats and Republicans understand the value and importance of the CHIP program. In one of the last hearings held by the powerful House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee in the 113th Congress, Subcommittee Chairman Joseph Pitts (R-PA) stated that:
“CHIP is a means-tested program designed to cover children and pregnant women who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but may not have access to purchase affordable private health insurance.Most recently, the Affordable Care Act reauthorized CHIP through FY2019, but the law only provided funding for the program through September 30, 2015.
CHIP has historically enjoyed bipartisan Congressional support, and it is widely seen as providing better care than many state Medicaid programs. Moving forward, Congress should be thoughtful and data-driven in our approach.”
NAHC and its affiliate, the Pediatric Home Care Association of America, strongly support an extension of funding for the CHIP program, and hopes that such action will be seen as a priority for the 114th Congress.
For more on NAHC’s coverage of CHIP authorization, please see NAHC Report, December 12, 2014.