FirstFocus Sign-on Letter on CHIP Funding Extension

Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, Speaker Ryan, Minority Leader Pelosi, Chairman Hatch, Ranking Member Wyden, Chairman Walden, and Ranking Member Pallone:

As leading national, state, tribal, and local organizations concerned about the health and well-being of America’s children and pregnant women, we are writing to urge you to immediately enact a strong, five-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). As you know, CHIP
funding expired almost three months ago on September 30, 2017 and as federal funding to the states is running out, families across the country are receiving disenrollment notices and face an uncertain future about their children’s health care just as they enter the holiday season. No family should feel the fear and worry of whether or not their child will have health care coverage. The most recent stop-gap measure passed in Congress to allow some states that have run out of funding to continue their programs is simply not enough for the 8.9 million children who rely on CHIP or for the states that need to plan for coverage. An immediate, long-term extension of funding for CHIP must be passed now.

For two decades, CHIP has been an essential source of children’s coverage, ensuring access to high quality, affordable, pediatric-appropriate health care for children in working families whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to purchase private health insurance on their
own. It is a strong bipartisan state-federal partnership that gives governors broad flexibility to design their programs to target the needs of their child populations. CHIP has played a critical role in reducing the number of uninsured children by more than 68 percent, from nearly 15 percent in 1997
to less than five percent in 2015, while improving health outcomes and access to care for children and pregnant women. The children who stand to lose CHIP would likely have no other affordable coverage option available to them. The resulting increase in the rate of uninsured children would be
an enormous step backwards.

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