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Warner, Kaine Push Congress to Reauthorize CHIP in Government Funding Bill

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United States Senate Press Release:

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to immediately pass bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides health care coverage for 128,000 children in Virginia, by including it in any upcoming government funding legislation.

The CHIP program is set to run out of funding on January 31st if Congress fails to reauthorize the program, and if no action is taken, Governor Terry McAuliffe and the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services will be forced to notify families in the coming days of their impending loss of health care coverage. This is the second letter to McConnell from Warner and Kaine urging passage of CHIP.

“We write again to emphasize our support for the prompt reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). We ask that you include bipartisan legislation reauthorizing CHIP in any upcoming funding legislation. Prompt reauthorization of this program is necessary to protect the health of thousands of Virginia children and families,” Sens. Warner and Kaine told Leader McConnell in a letter sent today.

Previously, Sens. Warner and Kaine wrote to Leader McConnell in October, asking to expedite a vote on the CHIP reauthorization. The Senators have yet to receive a response to the earlier letter.

“On September 18th, Senators Hatch and Wyden introduced the Keeping Kids Insurance Dependable and Secure (KIDS) Act. This bill represents a bipartisan compromise that will extend CHIP for five years. We wrote you on October 26, 2017, after you had failed to schedule a vote for three weeks, requesting bipartisan legislation reauthorizing CHIP be brought to the floor as soon as possible. It has been more than nine weeks since funding for this essential program expired,” wrote the Senators today.

Added the Senators, “It is imperative that Congress act quickly to end the uncertainty around health care coverage for thousands of Virginia children. The Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services is preparing to notify families of the impending loss of coverage. As such, we request that a full CHIP reauthorization be included in the next available legislative vehicle, so we can prevent letters from going out in Virginia that will unnecessarily frighten parents whose children are in CHIP. On January 31, 2018, Virginia will have insufficient funds to continue the program, and thousands of children in our state would be at risk of losing health care coverage. We can, and must, put an end to this uncertainty.”

View full text of the letter below and PDF can be found here.

Dear Leader McConnell,

We write again to emphasize our support for the prompt reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). We ask that you include bipartisan legislation reauthorizing CHIP in any upcoming funding legislation. Prompt reauthorization of this program is necessary to protect the health of thousands of Virginia children and families.

CHIP has been essential to guaranteeing that the children in our state can access health coverage. In FY 2017, Virginia received $285.9 million from CHIP. Between Virginia’s separate CHIP program, the Family Access to Medical Insurance Security, and CHIP-funded Medicaid, our state provides coverage for nearly 128,000 children. This includes 66,000 children on CHIP alone. This coverage includes doctor visits, hospital care, prescription medicines, eyeglasses, immunizations, and regular check-ups for kids under 18 years old with minimal cost sharing and without premiums. Since 2009, dental coverage has also been included in the program.

On September 18th, Senators Hatch and Wyden introduced the Keeping Kids Insurance Dependable and Secure (KIDS) Act. This bill represents a bipartisan compromise that will extend CHIP for five years. We wrote you on October 26, 2017, after you had failed to schedule a vote for three weeks, requesting bipartisan legislation reauthorizing CHIP be brought to the floor as soon as possible. It has been more than nine weeks since funding for this essential program expired.

It is imperative that Congress act quickly to end the uncertainty around health care coverage for thousands of Virginia children. The Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services is preparing to notify families of the impending loss of coverage. As such, we request that a full CHIP reauthorization be included in the next available legislative vehicle, so we can prevent letters from going out in Virginia that will unnecessarily frighten parents whose children are in CHIP. On January 31, 2018, Virginia will have insufficient funds to continue the program, and thousands of children in our state would be at risk of losing health care coverage. We can, and must, put an end to this uncertainty.

We remain committed to urging you to bring the KIDS Act to the floor quickly and include offsets acceptable to both sides. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,