Children’s Health Insurance Program Extension Effort Begins

Washington – The First Focus Campaign for Children, a national bipartisan children’s advocacy organization, sent a letter today thanking U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) for introducing the first legislative proposal to extend funding for the bipartisan federal-state Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Rockefeller’s bill, the CHIP Protection and Extension Act, would extend federal CHIP funding for four years. Unless Congress acts first, CHIP funding will end on October 1, 2015.

“CHIP protects children’s health and families’ economic security every day, and we thank Senator Rockefeller for being the first in Congress to stand up for CHIP and children’s health,” said First Focus Campaign for Children president Bruce Lesley.

As the letter details, CHIP is a bipartisan success story, created by a Republican-controlled Congress and a Democratic president in 1997. The initiative offers state governments flexibility to deliver coverage through private health insurance companies using programs tailored to the needs of children in each state. It is credited in large part for the 50 percent reduction in the rate of uninsurance among children since the late 1990s.

In February, First Focus coordinated a letter urging quick action to protect CHIP funding. The letter, cosigned by more than 400 national, state, and local organizations, including at least one organization in every state, observes that state budget officials will soon be making decisions about the future of their CHIP programs, making action this year essential to protect children’s health.

CHIP provides health care for eight million children. If CHIP funding is not extended, millions of those children will become uninsured, others will be added to states’ Medicaid rolls or enrolled through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange marketplaces. But the nonpartisan Medicaid and Chip Payment Advisory Commission reports that U.S. Internal Revenue Service regulations implementing the ACA’s tax subsidy would leave exchange coverage unaffordable for nearly two million children.

“With all of the progress we have made in reducing the numbers of uninsured kids, it makes no sense to end the CHIP program. Children will lose coverage if Congress fails to act,” said Lesley.

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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,

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