February 01,2007

Baucus Focuses On Chip Reauthorization, Expansion

Committee kicking off reauthorization effort for State Children’s Health Insurance Program

Washington, DC – Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said today that his committee will work quickly to reauthorize and expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) this year. At a committee hearing today entitled The Future of CHIP: Improving the Health of America’s Children, a Maryland family testified about their experience with CHIP, GAO Health Care Director Kathy Allen provided data on the ten year experience with the program, and Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue testified about his state’s funding issues and the need for additional funds to cover eligible children. Dr. Cindy Mann of the Georgetown University Center on Children and Families testified about options for improving and expanding CHIP in reauthorization, and the head of Iowa’s CHIP program discussed ways that states can innovate to serve children best. Following the hearing, Baucus indicated his goals for CHIP reauthorization and called for the completion of legislation by May of this year.

“Millions of American children need health care, and we need to think about every one of those kids and their families as we reauthorize CHIP. We can get health care to more kids who need it. We can make CHIP stronger for future generations, by giving states room to innovate and insisting on quality care,” said Baucus. “We’re going to need more money for CHIP. And we need to move fast to find it to keep kids from losing coverage this year.”

At the hearing, Chairman Baucus heard from Kim and Craig Bedford and their 13 year-old son Job about the importance of CHIP for their family. “[Maryland CHIP’S] greatest impact for our family is that we no longer have to make impossible health choices based on our ability to pay,” Kim Bedford said. “We no longer have to decide whether a child ‘really needs’ asthma medication prescribed by his pediatrician.”

“Having good health insurance means I can get inhalers and other medical treatments I need. I really like the security of knowing I always have an inhaler when and where I need it,” said Job Bedford. “Having good health insurance through the Children’s Health Insurance Program means that the health care that my siblings and I need is always available to us. There are no words to describe how safe that makes me feel. I wish everyone had the ability to get the medicine they needed to make their lives easier.”

Baucus worked with Senators John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), as well as the late Senator John Chafee (R-R.I.), to create CHIP in 1997, and it now provides health care coverage to more than six million American children. Baucus and Finance Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) were able to pass legislation at the end of 2006 that covered CHIP shortfalls in 14 states through May of this year. While CHIP’s congressional authorization will not expire until September 30, additional funding may be necessary to cover shortfalls expected to recur in May.

Testimony and a webcast of today’s hearing will be available today on the Finance Committee website at http://finance.senate.gov/

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