Children’s Advocates Commend Senate CHIP Effort

Washington – Today, Senator Michael Bennet offered an amendment to the Medicare “Sustainable Growth Rate” (SGR) legislative package that would have extended funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through 2019, when the program’s authorization ends. Without congressional action, CHIP funding ends in October. The base bill passed last month by the U.S. House of Representatives provides $5.7 billion to extend CHIP funding through 2017. The bill’s short-term CHIP extension is part of a much larger $214 billion package aimed at permanently securing health care for seniors. Senator Bennet’s amendment failed on a recorded vote of 50-50.

The First Focus Campaign for Children has marshalled national, state, and local leaders in repeated pushes for a four-year CHIP extension. Most recently, the Campaign’s partner organization, First Focus, coordinated a February letter urging congressional leadership to deliver a four-year CHIP extension. That letter was signed by more than 1,500 organizations, including Children’s Defense Fund, the Children’s Dental Health Project, the National Education Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Children’s Hospital Association, AARP, the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, LULAC, NAACP, and United Way Worldwide.

Last fall, 24 governors urged Congress last year to deliver a CHIP funding extension of four years or longer. That group included 14 Democrats and 10 Republicans, such as Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Just three governors requested a two-year CHIP funding extension. The Obama Administration’s 2016 budget proposed a four-year CHIP extension, as did the budget amendment offered last month by House Democrats.

Responding to today’s vote, the Campaign for Children released the following statement from its president, Bruce Lesley:

We commend Senator Bennet for his efforts to increase Congress’ investment in children’s health. Today’s vote isn’t a reflection on the amendment’s CHIP content – after all, an overwhelming majority of both Republican and Democratic governors called for a four-year extension. As we redouble our efforts to extend CHIP again in 2017, it’s good to know that we can count on leaders like Senator Bennet.”

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The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are the priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit

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