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Rockefeller Urges Congress to 'Act Now' on CHIP

U.S. Senate Committee on Finance

U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller chaired his first and, notably, last meeting of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Health Insurance Tuesday afternoon discussing a program he has championed, the Children’s Health Insurance Program or CHIP.

“Creating this program has been one of the most meaningful things I have done in my career in public service,” Rockefeller said in opening the meeting.

“If you’re helping 8 million children across the country, how can that not be important? How can that not be important?”

The Senator says since the bill’s passage in the late ‘90s, the number of uninsured children across the country has been cut in half, from 14 percent to 7 percent.

The program itself is authorized through 2019, but its funding expires in September 2015.

Rockefeller said many state budgets are already being balanced on the assumption that the federal funding will be extended through the life of the program and without it, state governments will likely not be able to continue the programs on their own, leaving millions of children without coverage.

“State legislatures and budget officials are relying on us to act now,” he said. “Colleagues, let’s do our job. Let’s show the American people we can work together to do something good.”

The subcommittee heard testimony from a group of advocates in support of the program, including President of First Focus Bruce Lesley, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics Dr. James Perrin, Director of the Alabama Bureau of Children’s Insurance Cathy Caldwell and President of the American Action Forum Dr. Douglas Holtz-Eakin.

Ashton Marra covers the Capitol for West Virginia Public Radio and can be heard weekdays on West Virginia Morning, the station’s daily radio news program. Ashton can also be heard Sunday evenings as she brings you state headlines during NPR’s weekend edition of All Things Considered. She joined the news team in October of 2012.

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