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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tell the Senate to Pass a 5-Year CHIP Bill Now

Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed its bill to extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a vitally important program that provides health insurance to 9 million children nationwide. Now the Senate takes up CHIP funding.

What you can do to advocate for CHIP funding

Senators need to hear from advocates and others concerned about CHIP funding. It will also be important that senators hear from governors. When talking to senators ask for:

  • A 5-year CHIP funding bill as soon as possible
  • A bill that doesn’t pay for CHIP by cutting coverage or increasing the numbers of uninsured 

Advocates should push their governors to contact senators with the same message. Now. 

Use Families USA’s shareable graphics to make your case

Delaying CHIP funding is placing stress on states and families

It is critical that this gets done, and soon. Congress let CHIP funding expire at the end of September. That’s left states scrambling, trying to assess how long they can keep their CHIP programs going as remaining funding runs out.  

It is also critical that in funding CHIP, coverage in other health programs is kept intact. That’s where the House bill missed the mark. 

While the House-passed bill was good on CHIP policy—it continues funding for the program at current levels for five years—the House paid for its CHIP proposal using partisan offsets that would reduce coverage and funding for other health programs.  

For example, the House bill would shorten the grace-period for consumers who are late paying private health insurance premiums from the current three months to one month. That change would result in up to half a million people losing health insurance, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Other elements in the House bill would slash public health funding and put care for pregnant women and children who rely on CHIP and Medicaid at risk. 

Senate should scrap House CHIP bill and move forward with their bipartisan bill

The Senate can and should do better by passing a truly bipartisan CHIP bill that doesn’t fund children’s health with cuts to other health care programs.

CHIP has bipartisan support. There is broad agreement that this critical children’s health program needs to be funded. It is a question of getting it done, and done in a way that doesn’t harm health coverage in other programs.

At a time when Congress is taking up a tax overhaul plan that would increase the deficit by over $1.5 trillion in order to give tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations, it would be a cruel irony for America’s families if the only way Congress is willing to fund health coverage for children is by taking health coverage away from working families and the middle class.