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Maine’s children are counting on Congress to reauthorize this vital program

Elias Hubbard
November 29, 2017

“We are very concerned, and the reason is that Congress hasn’t shown a strong ability to get stuff done”, said Bruce Lesley, president of Washington, D.C. -based First Focus, a child and family advocacy organization.
More than 75,000 children in Colorado and nearly 800 pregnant women are covered by the program, which is available to low- and middle-income families. Failure to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program is bad for the future of our state and country. The data show that these programs cover half of all kids with special health care needs and half of children living in rural areas. The newspaper cited the need to act quickly to ensure 400,000 Texan children who utilize CHIP don’t lose their coverage, especially those still recovering from the damage caused in August by Hurricane Harvey. These were not lazy families; they were working people struggling to provide for their children. Almost two-thirds of children who are covered by Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program are African-American or Latino.
According to NBC News, “CHIP has enjoyed bipartisan support since its inception in 1997, but this year, legislators let the deadline for reauthorizing it pass as they bickered over other health care issues, primarily the latest Republican-led push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act”.
While CHIP is popular across political lines, authorization for spending on the 20-year-old program expired at the end of September.
The Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, was enacted in 1997 to provide federal matching funds to states to cover the cost of health insurance for children in families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid who can not afford health coverage.
Now states are running out of money to keep the program going. Hey Congress, time to act.
This program helps more ME kids access the health care they need to promote brain development, experience improved health, and attain higher education and economic outcomes – essentially become thriving adults.
Claire Berkowitz is the executive director of the Maine Children’s Alliance.

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