September 24, 2015
Congress is facing a critical decision on protecting health care coverage for America’s children. Without congressional action, federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, commonly referred to as “CHIP,” will expire at the end of September 2015. States and the federal government jointly finance the CHIP program and the states are responsible for administering it. This bipartisan federal-state program has been phenomenally successful since it was created in 1997, reducing the number of uninsured children by 50 percent – from 25 percent in 1997 to 13 percent in 2012. But as states begin to develop their budgets, it is unclear whether or when Congress will continue the CHIP program.
Since it was established in 1997, CHIP has become a dependable source of coverage for low-income children in working families whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private health insurance. Pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs), who practice in a variety of healthcare settings and reach millions of patients across the country each year, know first-hand the difference stable, affordable health coverage makes for families and their children in getting the timely health care they need. NAPNAP members recognize the vital role that CHIP plays in providing affordable coverage that is specifically designed with children’s health needs in mind.
At a time when states are still adjusting to numerous changes in health care coverage, PNPs believe it is essential that Congress secure CHIP’s future this year, so that states will be able to budget for and operate their programs without disruption. The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that 12.7 million children projected to be enrolled in fiscal year 2015 are at risk of losing their CHIP coverage in 2016 if the program is not reauthorized.
NAPNAP applauds Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Congressmen Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) for drawing attention to the urgency of continuing the CHIP program by introducing legislation to extend funding. Senator Rockefeller’s “CHIP Extension Act” (S. 2461) and the “CHIP Extension and Improvement Act” (H.R. 2986) sponsored by Reps. Pallone and Waxman provide a starting point for bipartisan discussions on passing CHIP reauthorization legislation before this year ends.
To maintain our national investment in improving the health of our children, the National Association for Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) urges Congress to ensure the continuation of CHIP’s success. Nearly 93 percent of America’s children have health coverage today, thanks in large part to CHIP. We need to ensure that they have health coverage for many years to come.