Press Releases

Sep 06 2013

ROCKEFELLER: COMMITTED TO STRENGTHENING AND EXPANDING CHILDREN'S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM

Senator brings stakeholders together to rally support for future of program

CHARLESTON, W.VA. –Senator Jay Rockefeller said today he is committed to securing a future for one of the most important federal programs of his career that supports children and families—the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Rockefeller was a lead author of the landmark CHIP legislation in 1997, and successfully led Congressional efforts to keep the program going in 2006, 2007 and 2009.

While CHIP is still the law of the land until 2019, funding for the program and key provisions are only viable through 2015. Today, Rockefeller gathered a group of stakeholders, including families that rely on CHIP, policy experts and advocates to rally support for efforts to secure CHIP funding for years to come.

“Health care should be seen as a right, not a privilege. Period,” Rockefeller said. “And nothing is more important than making sure children get the start they need in life. That was my goal when we set out to create CHIP in 1997. And it’s the same today, as we approach a crucial debate about maintaining and strengthening this essential program.”

Since CHIP was signed into law, more than 200,000 children have been covered in West Virginia; currently, 40,000 children in the state are covered by this program.

“Quite simply, fully funding CHIP is a moral imperative,” he said. “This program is something I deeply, truly believe in, and I am as deeply proud of CHIP as anything I’ve done in my nearly 50 years in public service. That’s why I will never stop fighting to make sure children across West Virginia get the care they rightfully need and deserve.”

Background

Senator Rockefeller helped launch one of the most important children's initiatives of the last half-century, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in 1997. Over the last decade, CHIP has given millions of children nationwide - including tens of thousands in West Virginia - the chance to start out healthy in life. And while significant progress in reducing the number of uninsured children has been made, Senator Rockefeller continues to fight to expand and improve this critical children's program.

Senator Rockefeller believes that by substantially increasing the federal investment in CHIP over the next five years, coverage can be maintained for the more than six million kids currently enrolled in the program - while also providing CHIP with the resources it needs to cover as many as four million uninsured children.

As part of legislation that he wrote to improve CHIP and plans to introduce in this Congress, Rockefeller will push to expand access to both dentists and mental health professionals for children. The bill will allow states to coordinate enrollment in both the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and school lunch programs, and it will allow Medicaid to target and enroll more eligible children.

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