PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Local lawmakers are calling on Congress to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program — CHIP — which has been unfunded for almost 100 days now.
Since it was created, CHIP has enjoyed bi-partisan support, but local democrats say republicans are holding children’s healthcare hostage, using CHIP as a pawn in budget negotiations.
Senator Jeff Merkley was joined by representatives Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici and Governor Kate Brown for a rally Friday urging congress to pass a bill that would reauthorize CHIP. They’re banding together to say children’s healthcare is too important to play political games with.
“The children of the United States of America shouldn’t have to depend upon one short term extension after another,” Merkley said. “The parents shouldn’t have to have the stress of worrying about their children’s health care.”
Funding ran out in September, leaving coverage for 9 million children in jeopardy.
The Oregon Health Authority is helping to keep 80,000 children and pregnant women covered in the state through April 30.
Republican congressman Greg Walden pushed for CHIP to be part of his House funding bill, the Championing Healthy Kids Act. It provides the longest extension of CHIP in the program’s 20 year history. I passed the House last month and now awaits action on the Senate floor.Statements from Oregon lawmakers about CHIP: Merkley:
The fact that CHIP is being used as a pawn in cynical political machinations makes my blood boil. The majority leadership in Congress is using the health and well-being of tens of thousands of children in Oregon and 9 million children across the country as a bargaining chip to win concessions in budget negotiations. Children’s health care has been a bipartisan priority in the past. It’s a sad example of the extremists’ hold over one of our political parties that moms and dads need to take time away from their jobs and kids to remind this Congress that health care for children matters.”
Children’s health care is too important to play political games with. CHIP makes all the difference to thousands of Oregon’s families and the anxiety caused by this uncertainty takes a toll on their well-being. Federal leaders should unite, put aside political gamesmanship and fund the CHIP program. Unfortunately, majority leadership in Congress is focused on looking out for the wealthy and well-connected. Here in Oregon we’re focused on the people, not the powerful.”
Parents deserve certainty that their children can get the care they need. It’s disgraceful that Republicans in Congress continue to hold children’s health hostage. It’s past time Republicans stop their attacks on health care and work with us to extend this critical program. The health of millions of kids—including tens of thousands in Oregon—depends on it.”
As a mom and a member of Congress, I am dismayed by the failure of Congressional leadership to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program for the long-term. This historically bipartisan program provides health care to millions of kids in Oregon and across the country, and a short-term solution is unacceptable. Also Republicans just added about $1.5 trillion to the debt with their tax bill, and they are now insisting that we cut prevention and public health programs to pay for children’s health insurance. That’s wrong, especially when we need to address the opioid crisis. I will do everything I can to protect health care for Oregon kids and families.”