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The Clock is Running Out as 9 Million Kids Wait for Health Coverage

No one should have to choose between being able to afford groceries for their family or paying for healthcare coverage.  Maggie, a healthcare worker in an assisted living residence in upstate New York, understands this predicament more than most.

Maggie and her husband work full-time jobs, but the healthcare premiums and out of pocket costs for their 8 year old son were too high for them to afford on their budget.  They turned to New York’s CHIP program for help.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which is set to expire this Saturday, provides essential healthcare services to children whose families either don't receive coverage from their employer, or don't earn enough money to afford coverage on their own.

“Thank god for that program!  It’s been a lifesaver for us,” said Maggie.  “We’re responsible people, we’re living within our budget, shopping at Aldi’s, not Wegman’s.  My son got strep throat three times last year, and each of those visits cost so much.  Now with CHIP, I am paying less than half of what I had to before in premiums with no co-pays.  We’re saving hundreds each month, and that’s a lot of groceries.  It’s just a relief!”

Without action from Congress, the funding for this vital service will expire on September 30, putting millions of children at risk of losing healthcare coverage.  The good news is that most states will have enough funding to cover CHIP for the next few months.

In the meantime, a bipartisan bill (SB 1827) was introduced in the Senate earlier this month to reauthorize CHIP for an additional 5 years at enhanced funding levels for the first 3 years.  Due to uncertainty on the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act and changes to Medicaid through the Graham-Cassidy bill, CHIP reauthorization was put on pause.  Now with the failure of the Graham-Cassidy bill, the expectation is that Congress will take up SB 1827 in early October.

As we mark National Child Health Day coming up on October 2, we urge the Senate to act quickly to reauthorize CHIP, which is vital to Maggie’s family and more than 9 million children in working families across the country.

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