Pallone, Democratic Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Continue Children’s Health Insurance Program Funding

Feb 13, 2015 Issues: Health Care

Bill Ensures CHIP Coverage for Millions of Children through 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, every Democratic member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee – led by Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Ranking Member of the full committee, and Congressman Gene Green (TX-29), Ranking Member of the Health Subcommittee – introduced legislation to extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through 2019.  Without this legislation, no new funding for the CHIP program will be available after September 2015.  Congressman Pallone was one of the original authors of the 1997 CHIP program, which has traditionally garnered strong bipartisan support at the federal and state level, and has grown to provide health insurance to more than eight million children as well as pregnant women today.

“CHIP provides children across the country the high-quality and affordable healthcare services they need in order to grow up to be healthy adults.  Since 1997, it has proven vital for millions of American children and their families,” said Pallone.  “Congress must continue funding for this essential program, so that no child loses this coverage.  This legislation sends a strong message from Democrats on Energy and Commerce that we must provide states with the certainty of four more years of funding in CHIP, and I intend to work vigorously with all of my colleagues in both the House and the Senate to get this done without delay.”   

“With CHIP funding set to end on September 30, 2015, Congress must act without delay to stabilize and protect this essential program,” said Green.  “CHIP is absolutely critical to meeting the health needs of millions of our nation’s children and families. Currently, over eight million children are covered through this program and nearly 600,000 in Texas. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee to introduce this legislation, and I’m hopeful that members can once again come together to ensure that States are able to continue operating their programs.”

The bill, the CHIP Extension and Improvement Act of 2015, makes a number of program improvements to reduce bureaucracy and increase state flexibility. The legislation maintains the 23 percent “bump” increasing states’ matching rates and the maintenance-of-effort provision so that states do not change Medicaid and CHIP eligibility standards. Among other improvements, the legislation provides states with a permanent option to use “Express Lane Eligibility,” which reduces administrative burdens for both states and beneficiaries.

A Senate companion bill was also introduced Thursday by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Bob Casey (D-PA). The bill, entitled the Protecting & Retaining Our Children’s Health Insurance Program Act of 2015 (PRO-CHIP), would also extend CHIP funding through 2019.