October 26, 2017

Warner & Kaine Ask McConnell To Expedite CHIP Vote In Senate

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asking him to bring legislation that would reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to the floor for a vote as soon as possible. CHIP, which covers 66,000 children and 1,100 pregnant women in Virginia alone, is set to run out of funding on January 31 if Congress fails to reauthorize the program. Families in Virginia rely on CHIP to cover doctor visits, hospital care, prescription medicines, eyeglasses, immunizations, and regular check-ups for kids up to 19 years old with minimal cost sharing and without premiums. CHIP expired on September 30, and despite bipartisan work by the Senate Finance Committee, the reauthorization bill has not been brought up for a vote.

“We write to emphasize the importance of a prompt reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for the state of Virginia,” the Senators said. “We ask that you bring bipartisan legislation reauthorizing this important program to the floor as soon as possible. CHIP has been very important to protecting the health care of children in our state.”

The Senators stressed that the uncertainty around funding the program has put strain on the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services, which is preparing to notify families of the impending loss of coverage. They also voiced strong support for the hard work that has gone into a bipartisan compromise offered by Senators Hatch and Wyden.

“This bill represents a bipartisan compromise that will extend CHIP for five years, giving states sufficient time to plan their budgets and make sure families do not face uncertainty related to their health care coverage.   We urge you to bring a bill to the floor quickly that includes pay-fors that are acceptable to both sides. It is imperative that Congress act quickly to end the uncertainty around health care coverage for thousands of Virginia children,” the Senators concluded.

View full text of the letter below and PDF can be found HERE:

Dear Leader McConnell,

We write to emphasize the importance of a prompt reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for the state of Virginia.  We ask that you bring bipartisan legislation reauthorizing this important program to the floor as soon as possible.

CHIP has been very important to protecting the health care of children in our state.  In FY 2016, Virginia received $263.9 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 193,000 children.   This coverage includes doctor visits, hospital care, prescription medicines, eyeglasses, immunizations, and regular check-ups for kids under 19 years old with minimal cost sharing and without premiums.  Since 2009, dental coverage has also been included in the program.

The uncertainty surrounding CHIP has already started to have an impact on our constituents.  According to the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services, the state will be forced to send letters on December 1, 2017 notifying families of impending loss of coverage, causing confusion and great concern for families who rely on CHIP for their children’s medical coverage.  Enrollment will be frozen on January 31, and by the end of January, Virginia will have insufficient funds to continue the program.  Making matters worse, our state legislature does not come back into session until January, and will not have time to find solutions to avoid major disruptions to these kids’ health care.

There has always been a bipartisan consensus on the importance of reauthorizing CHIP, and this year is no different.  On September 18th, Senators Hatch and Wyden introduced the Keeping Kids Insurance Dependable and Secure Act.  This bill represents a bipartisan compromise that will extend CHIP for five years, giving states sufficient time to plan their budgets and make sure families do not face uncertainty related to their health care coverage.   We urge you to bring a bill to the floor quickly that includes pay-fors that are acceptable to both sides. It is imperative that Congress act quickly to end the uncertainty around health care coverage for thousands of Virginia children.  Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely, 

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