WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing about the future of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), the Ranking Member the Subcommittee on Health, called on Congress to extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) before the end of the year at the hearing.
“Without Congressional action, funding for CHIP will expire next fall, which will jeopardize the health coverage of millions of children throughout the country whose families cannot afford to purchase coverage for them on their own,” said Pallone. “We have an opportunity right now to come together and extend funding for the program through 2019. I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting action during this lame duck session.”
Below is the full text of the statement Congressman Pallone submitted at the hearing:
Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr.
Committee on Energy and Commerce
Subcommittee on Health
Hearing on “The Future of the Children's Health Insurance Program”
December 3, 2014
“Thank you, Chairman Pitts. I am glad that we are having this hearing today and very much look forward to making progress toward ensuring the continued success of CHIP. It is a vital program that provides coverage to 8.1 million low-to-moderate income children throughout the Nation who are unable to afford or are not eligible for other forms of coverage.
Without Congressional action, funding for the program will expire next year. This would inevitably lead to gaps in coverage for some and lack of coverage for many others. So we must have a conversation now about providing funding as soon as possible. In fact, I would urge my colleagues to consider an extension during the lame duck – to ensure predictability to the many states that have come to rely and appreciate the CHIP program. I don’t think anyone would argue that CHIP should not be extended. So let’s get it done.
CHIP was created in a Republican-controlled Congress in 1997 as a joint federal-state undertaking so that states could help determine how best to design and administer their own programs, and ever since, it has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support. This historic support from both sides of the aisle was reflected in the responses to Chairman Upton and Ranking Member Waxman's recent letter to the Nation's Governors. Across red and blue states, including some that did and some that did not proactively implement the ACA, Governors overwhelmingly support the extension of CHIP funding.
I have a bill – H.R. 5364, the “CHIP Extension and Improvement Act of 2014” – that would achieve this purpose while also instituting reforms that would enable states to eliminate administrative burdens and increase quality of care.
By funding the program through 2019, we would provide states with more time to plan for the future, putting them in a better position to ensure that there are no disruptions in affordable and comprehensive coverage for those families who depend on the program.
Furthermore, the consequences of this coverage are far flung. Not only do state governments depend on this funding, it will also support economic activity stemming from providers who provide care to children, as well as mothers who are able to keep themselves and their children healthy and thus won't need to take off time from work in order to care for their sick children.
In my state of New Jersey alone, over 800,000 children are served by New Jersey Family Care, which is funded by CHIP. For these families, getting coverage on the private market is still out of reach – a sentiment that is supported by both GAO and MACPAC, who have shown that even with cost sharing, CHIP is the most affordable and comprehensive form of coverage for these children, especially those with complex health needs.
This is true for the millions of American families who rely on the program, so I hope that my colleagues will join me in supporting action this lame duck to fund CHIP for the next four years.