WASHINGTON—Today, the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) issued the following statement strongly supporting the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
“This reauthorization confirms our nation’s bipartisan commitment to children’s health and brings needed certainty to states implementing CHIP and to the children and families that rely on it,” said Elizabeth G. Taylor, NHeLP executive director.
“We thank our congressional champions for working swiftly to protect the health and well-being of our nation’s children,” said Mara Youdelman, managing attorney in NHeLP’s DC office. “We hope that this 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.
The bill extends CHIP funding for two years, through 2017. NHeLP and health advocates supported a four-year extension and will work with Congress on how to protect this crucial program beyond 2017. We also support the funding for community health centers (CHC) through 2017. At the same time, NHeLP is dismayed that the bill imposes the Hyde Amendment on the CHC funding, 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. Women’s lives should not be subjected to these political ploys. NHeLP urges members to continue to fight for the full scope of health care to be available to all.
The bill also permanently extends two programs for low-income people: the qualifying individual (QI) program, which covers the cost of Medicare Part B premiums for seniors with incomes between 120 – 135 percent of the federal poverty level; and transitional medical assistance (TMA), which provides Medicaid coverage to families transitioning to work. Together, these are critical wins for the health and well-being of vulnerable individuals.