House Passes Children’s Health Program Reauthorization; NHeLP Encourages Senate to Act

House Passes Children’s Health Program Reauthorization; NHeLP Encourages Senate to Act

WASHINGTON—Today, the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) issued the following statement supporting the House passage of a bill (HR 2) reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).“We are pleased to see bipartisan support to protect a crucial health program that millions of children rely on,” said Elizabeth G. Taylor, NHeLP executive director.

“CHIP provides health care to children during their most formative years, and has done so successfully since the beginning,” added Mara Youdelman, managing attorney in NHeLP’s DC office. “We hope that this bipartisan two-year extension is the start of a longer conversation about protecting CHIP and moving forward to fully fund the program for four more years.”

Since 1987, CHIP has provided affordable health coverage for low-income children and pregnant women who do not qualify for Medicaid, offering them the chance at better, healthier futures. Along with Medicaid, CHIP has successfully reduced uninsurance among children by half.

While NHeLP supported efforts to reauthorize CHIP through 2019, the current agreement extends funding through 2017. CHIP remains a crucial part of the nation’s health system because the ACA built upon the success of Medicaid and CHIP, preserving them as the foundation of children’s coverage in the new health system. States have designed their CHIPs within broad federal parameters specifically to serve the unique needs of children and pregnant women with age-appropriate benefits and provider networks and facilities. States also have ensured CHIP’s affordability for families by limiting out-of-pocket costs and similar barriers to care.

HR 2 would extend funding for community health centers for an additional two years, which is a welcomed development. NHeLP is dismayed, however, that the bill includes the Hyde Amendment, which severely limits federal funding for abortion services. NHeLP opposes adding the Hyde restriction to any program because of the substantial harm to low income women. NHeLP is disappointed to see women’s lives subjected to these political ploys, and urges members to continue to fight for the full scope of health care available to all.

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