Commentary: WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Beto O’Rourke (TX-16) sent a letter to Congressional leadership with the backing of 98 additional representatives urging them to work together and responsibly extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Delivered to House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI-01), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), the letter advocates for immediately reauthorizing CHIP while simultaneously protecting the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid and other health programs that Americans rely on to stay healthy, see a doctor and get the care they need.
“No one in Texas or across the country should have to lose their health coverage for others to maintain it,” said Representative O’Rourke. “Families throughout the country are depending on us to ensure their children have healthcare coverage going into the new year and we should be dedicated to passing a bipartisan piece of legislation that extends CHIP funding and promotes the health and wellbeing of all Texans.”
Nine million children across the country rely on CHIP, which has played a fundamental role in lowering the uninsured rate among children from 25 percent in 1997 to less than five percent today. CHIP and Medicaid work together to cover 45 percent of kids in El Paso and the program offers prenatal care to 36,000 pregnant women in Texas. CHIP provides comprehensive, low-cost health coverage for services including routine check-ups, immunizations, doctor visits, prescriptions, dental and vision care, and emergency services.
CHIP has a long history of bipartisan support, and is the result of a bipartisan agreement in 1997 on the importance of investing in our children’s care. Unfortunately, the recent bill passed by the House deviated from this commendable legacy. The highly partisan bill seeks to provide healthcare for some at the expense of others, undermining CHIP’s mission. This bill weakens coverage for too many Americans, cutting funding for financial assistance for middle- and working-class Americans who purchase subsidized coverage in the Marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act. It also reduces the Prevention and Public Fund by more than $6 billion, crippling programs that improve access to vaccines for children, opioid treatment, youth suicide programs, and diabetes prevention services. O’Rourke voted against this bill and has since pursued a bipartisan solution.
Federal funding for CHIP expired over two months ago, and as a result, many states across the country are preparing to terminate children’s health coverage. As families begin receiving notices that they may lose CHIP coverage, Congress must come together and find a legislative solution.