Washington, D.C. — Today the U.S. Congress missed a critical opportunity to pass a long-term extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program
(CHIP) for millions of kids across the country. Children’s hospitals call on Congress to immediately extend CHIP funding for five years when it reconvenes in January 2018 — don’t fail our children again.
Despite bipartisan agreement on sound policy that would extend this vital, popular program for five years and provide stability to children and families and the states administering the program, Congress instead chose to enact an insufficient funding measure for state programs. Temporary funding only prolongs uncertainty for families and states, and fails again to meet the health care needs of children.
Created in 1997 with strong bipartisan support, CHIP was designed with children in mind and includes child-appropriate benefits, access to pediatric providers and cost-sharing limits to protect children and working-class families who lack private coverage options but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.
Federal funding for CHIP expired at the end of September. States have stretched limited funds to ensure that no child has actually lost coverage to date, but time is up — several states have announced plans to notify families that their children will lose health insurance in early 2018. Had Congress prioritized children’s health and fully extended CHIP, significant disruption to state programs and immeasurable anxiety among families could have been avoided.
Children and families need long-term certainty, not temporary “fixes.” On behalf of our nation’s children’s hospitals and the patients and families they serve, the Children’s Hospital Association calls on Congress to pass a five-year extension of CHIP funding immediately in January. Children represent the future of our nation, and right now, that future is in jeopardy.