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Sarbanes Fights to Keep Children's Health Care Off GOP Chopping Block

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Today, U.S. Congressman John P. Sarbanes (D-Md.) offered an amendment in the House Energy and Commerce Committee to protect the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) performance bonus program from proposed Republican budget cuts. The performance budget program was created to support the enrollment and retention of eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP. This helps to ensure that all children who are eligible for health insurance coverage under CHIP are receiving it and provides additional funding for qualifying states who simplify enrollment and renewal procedures.

"I can't imagine a better issue for bipartisan cooperation than ensuring all children can get health care," said Congressman Sarbanes. "Yet the Republican budget makes incomprehensible cuts to children's health programs at a time when millions of American children still have no coverage."

"House Republicans are proposing these cuts to children's health even as they move to extend the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and allow oil companies and other special interests to keep their lucrative corporate subsidies. I am confident that most Americans do not share these priorities," said Sarbanes.

Without action, funding for the performance bonus program will expire in 2013. The Republican budget bill proposes to end the program this year. Congressman Sarbanes' amendment would instead authorize funding through 2015.

"Our children's health is our top priority. That's why Maryland has worked hard to enroll as many children as possible in health coverage," said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. "The CHIP performance bonus program validates our efforts and provides resources to support more Maryland children."

Since 2010, the CHIP performance bonus program has provided nearly $40 million to the State of Maryland for its consistent efforts to identify and enroll eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP coverage.

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has used this critical funding to enroll more than 40,000 low-income children throughout the state in Medicaid and CHIP in Fiscal Year 2011.

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