Dear Speaker Ryan,
We write to respectfully urge immediate floor consideration of an extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the other expired health programs through Fiscal Year 2022. The Kaiser Family Foundation recently concluded that without an extension of CHIP, "states would face budget pressures, children would lose coverage, and implementation of program changes could result in increased costs and administrative burden for states as well as confusion for families." In keeping with the core mission of CHIP, any extension must not be offset by cutting Medicare or using funds, such as the Prevention and Public Health Fund, that support the health and well-being of our constituents.
Congress must also act with urgency to extend and reauthorize the other programs that were enacted in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, including extending funding for Community Health Centers, the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP), Rural and Medicare-dependent hospitals program, Teaching Health Centers, Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Programs, and the Special Diabetes Program for Type I Diabetes and for Indians. These critical programs, as well as CHIP, are vital to the American health care system and support access to high-quality, affordable care.
As you know, CHIP authorization expired on September 30, 2017. This critical program ensures that 9 million children are provided with low-cost health insurance, which covers services such as routine checkups, immunizations, doctor visits, prescriptions, dental and vision care, inpatient and outpatient hospital care, laboratory and X-ray services, and emergency services.
This historically bipartisan program has been successful in lowering the percentage of children who were uninsured from nearly 14 percent when it started in 1997 to 4.5 percent in 2015. If not extended by Congress soon, many states will no longer be able to fund the program and will begin limiting coverage, some as early as the end of 2017.
As you continue to work to reauthorize and extend provisions included in MACRA, Congress must continue CHIP's legacy of providing care for children and pregnant women in low-income families by extending the program immediately. This should be accomplished without resorting to poison pill offsets. We thank you for your continued commitment to our nation's children and urge you to bring CHIP extension legislation at full funding levels to the floor as soon as possible.