Friday, November 7, 2014

Urge Congress to Extend Children's Health Insurance

Congress will be back in Washington for their “lame duck” session soon and they have a LOT to do before the end of the year. First things first, let's ask them to attend to the needs of our children!

Join other faith leaders and advocates who are coming together to urge Congress to pass for a four-year extension to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) during the Lame Duck session. This extension will stabilize the program and ensure that states can continue to operate their programs without interruption.

What is CHIP?

Since its inception in the 1990s, The Children's Health Insurance Program has provided health coverage to nearly eight million children in families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, but too low to afford private coverage. This vital legislation has cut the uninsured rate for children in half. Funding for this program is set to expire next year on the assumption that most beneficiaries will be able to get subsidized private coverage through the insurance marketplaces, which some speculate may not be possible.  We need to allow more time for the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) to fill in the coverage gaps and ensure that all these kids have coverage before cutting off the program.

Why do we need such a long extension right now?

States are currently in the process of developing their 2015 budgets and negotiating contracts with insurers and providers. They need to know that the federal support for CHIP will exist beyond 2015.  If funding is not stabilized, states will have to make drastic program cuts through enrollment caps, benefit reductions, reductions in eligibility, or provider payments. The millions of children enrolled in CHIP would be at risk and many will have no other coverage option available to them.

What does the PC(USA) say?

In 2002, the 214th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) advocated for adequate funding for CHIP so that health coverage would be available for all children, urged the expansion of CHIP to cover parents and caregivers (because we know kids are more like to see a doctor if their caregivers also have coverage), and finally urged Congress to “recognize the importance of universal health care – that is, equal, accessible, affordable, and high-quality health care for all persons residing in our nation.”

Learn more about CHIP from the Children’s Defense Fund.

The PC(USA) recently joined a broad-spectrum of 1,200 organizations in making this request to Congress. Join us as we move into the lame duck session.