SACRAMENTO, CA — Recognizing the urgency of quick action to protect children’s health, the U.S. House of Representatives voted today, with a strong show of bipartisan support, to approve the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). The bill would, among other things, extend funding and current policy for the highly successful Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for two years, ensuring that children from low- and moderate-income working families can get the comprehensive, affordable health coverage they need to reach their full potential.
More than 1 million children and pregnant women in California have health coverage funded by CHIP. While thanking the House members for taking timely action to extend CHIP, children’s health care advocates in California urged the Senate to come together and build on the solid policy in the House bill by extending CHIP funding for four years.
CHIP has a long history of bipartisan support, providing coverage for children in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but don’t have access to affordable health care. As a result of CHIP’s implementation, coverage rates for kids across the country are at a historic high of close to 93 percent.
Ted Lempert, President of Children Now, stated, “As the Senate takes up legislation to renew CHIP, we strongly urge them to quickly pass a four-year clean extension of this critical program. By ensuring four years of continued funding now, Congress can provide the stability families and state officials need to plan without worrying that the promises Congress made for the future of CHIP won’t be kept. Without CHIP, millions of children would lose their health coverage, and millions more would pay significantly more for less comprehensive benefits.”
Forty-two governors of both parties, including California’s Governor Brown, called on Congress to move quickly to fully fund CHIP. Most states are working to finalize their budgets now, and many are depending on CHIP funding. In California, if Congress fails to act soon to extend CHIP funding, California will be forced to cut half a billion dollars from its FY 2015-16 budget.
Peter Manzo, President and CEO of United Ways of California said, “We applaud the members of the California Congressional delegation for acting in a strong bi-partisan manner and recognizing the need for quick action to preserve health coverage for millions of children across the country. The message is loud and clear – CHIP is an important lifeline for California children.”