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Urge your Members of Congress to Extend Funding for CHIP

The Children Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides critical health coverage to almost nine million children across the United States. CHIP helps ensure that kids receive the medical treatment they need, and offers piece of mind to their parents and families. Thanks to CHIP, as well as the Affordable Care Act, the percentage of children in the U.S. with health insurance is at all-time high of 95%.

Federal funding for CHIP expired at the end of September, meaning Congress must act quickly to ensure that all eligible children keep their coverage. On Friday, November 3, the House of Representatives reauthorized funding for the program, but its bill included harmful funding offsets that threaten health care access and critical public health programs. Urge Congress to extend funding for CHIP and protect the millions of families relying on the program without harmful cuts to programs that help Americans access quality, affordable health care.

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  • Background

    Established in 1997, the Children’s Health Insurance Program offers health insurance to children in low-income families who are not eligible for Medicaid. In the 20 years since the program was enacted, the rate of uninsured children fell from 14% to just 5%. While any child without health insurance demands action, this progress is remarkable.

    CHIP, like Medicaid, operates as a partnership between the federal government and states. With federal funding having expired on September 30, some states will run out of funding for CHIP as early as November, leaving children without insurance. Some state laws require state to notify families if there is potential for the program to be unfunded. These notices—unsurprisingly—scare families and can leave sick children in precarious circumstances.

    CHIP has enjoyed bipartisan support since its creation. As Congress begins talks to extend funding for the program, this should continue to be case. States need clarity about the funding they will receive. Children’s health care should not subject to political gamesmanship.

    The House-passed CHIP reauthorization included a much-welcomed 5-year extension of the program, but it also contained upsetting offsets to pay for it. The bill would take away health care from people in the marketplace after just one month of missing a payment. It would also make cuts to the CDC and state public health funds. One study estimates as many 688,00 people could lose insurance as a result of the missing premium provision. Instead of advancing these harmful offsets, Congress must act in a bipartisan fashion to find commonsense funding tradeoffs.

    Jewish Values

    For centuries, Jewish law has commanded communities to provide healthcare to their inhabitants (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot De'ot IV: 23). We learn that healthcare is a core element of creating a society of equality and justice. Continuing to provide healthcare for children lifts up the most vulnerable among us, advancing equality for all.

    More Information

    For more on this issue, visit the RAC’s healthcare page, or check out the RACBlog. You can also contact Senior Legislative Assistant Nathan Bennett at (202) 387-2800.