Nine million kids are on the verge of being uninsured after Congress failed to extend a Clinton-era bill that helps children in middle-class families obtain affordable health care.
Congress missed the deadline to review the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) on Saturday, putting several states in jeopardy of losing money when the program expires.
Arizona, Minnesota, North Carolina and Washington, D.C. are at risk of running out of CHIP money at the end of December, as well as dozens of other states by June 2018, according to a July government report.
The program was created under President Bill Clinton in 1997 with bipartisan support. Late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) co-sponsored the bill, which was last reauthorized in 2015 and provides health insurance for children in families that don’t qualify for Medicaid because of their incomes but still need government support to cover medical costs.
CHIP cost the federal government $13.6 billion in 2016. The program’s benefits vary in each state, but it offers routine checkups, immunizations, doctor visits, prescriptions and other services.
Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), the House Democratic Caucus chairman, said Congress missing the deadline on CHIP was “unacceptable.”
“Ensuring that children, who would otherwise have no access to comprehensive health care, have the guarantee of coverage should be a bipartisan issue,” the congressman wrote in a statement. “Extending this critical program must be a top priority when Congress returns to Washington.”
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