Katie Niederee, Julia Lawless (202)-224-4515
Hatch: Longest CHIP Extension Ever Provides Certainty for Families and States
Finance Committee Chairman Highlights Popular, Bipartisan Program on Senate Floor
Click here to watch Hatch discuss CHIP on the Senate floor.
WASHINGTON – Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today highlighted the recent six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the longest extension in the program’s history, on the Senate floor. Hatch created the bipartisan CHIP program with former Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) in the 1990s.
“Prior to the introduction of the original CHIP bill, I came across a number of families with parents who worked but still couldn’t afford private coverage for their children, yet they made too much to qualify for Medicaid,” Hatch said on the Senate floor. “Senator Kennedy and I designed our bill to fill this gap and meet those needs. Today, the CHIP program provides health insurance to about nine million children every year…For that reason, members from both parties have been supportive of the program since the day it was signed into law.”
Hatch’s full remarks can be found below:
Mr. President, earlier this week, the Senate voted to pass a continuing resolution to reopen the government. This came after weeks of acrimony and no shortage of hostility here on the floor and elsewhere.
And, while most of the recent debate has focused on the future of immigration policy, another vitally important priority – and a bipartisan priority, no less – was also addressed this week.
I’m talking, of course, about the six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which was included in the funding bill. It’s a shame, really, that this bipartisan accomplishment has, in some respects, been overlooked, while more attention has been given to partisan squabbling over other more divisive issues.
Since its inception, CHIP has been a bipartisan program.
In 1997, Senator Kennedy and I came together to create CHIP in order to provide health insurance to vulnerable children. It was a Republican-controlled Congress working with a Democratic president that brought this program into existence.
The year before, that same Republican Congress and Democratic president worked together to produce a landmark welfare reform bill that sought to replace a culture of dependency with an emphasis on work. CHIP became a necessity for those families making the transition.
Prior to the introduction of the original CHIP bill, I came across a number of families with parents who worked but still couldn’t afford private coverage for their children, yet they made too much to qualify for Medicaid. Senator Kennedy and I designed our bill to fill this gap and meet those needs.
Today, the CHIP program provides health insurance to about nine million children every year.
While the program isn’t perfectly designed – though few programs are – it is widely considered to be one of our most efficient and cost-effective healthcare programs. For that reason, members from both parties have been supportive of the program since the day it was signed into law.
Last year, with an extension deadline approaching, Senator Wyden – the Ranking Member of the Finance Committee – and I went to work on drafting another bipartisan CHIP bill, one that would make needed improvements to the program and extend it for an additional five years.
We were successful.
We introduced our bill in September and, shortly thereafter, the Finance Committee marked it up and reported it by voice vote.
We’ve been working to pass our bill since last September, and thankfully, that time came earlier this week.
When we voted to pass the CR, we also voted to successfully extend CHIP for six years.
That is the longest CHIP extension in the history of the program.
Other than that extra year of funding, the bill we passed was identical to the one Senator Wyden and I introduced last year.
I know we have colleagues already talking about adding additional years, and I know a number of stakeholders would like to see that as well.
I’m definitely open to having a conversation with my colleagues on how we might move forward to support an additional four years of funding for CHIP.
In my view, if we can work together to pass a bill adding four years to the six already in place, that would be fantastic.
But, for this moment, let us not overlook the success we’ve achieved this week. A six year CHIP extension gives security and certainty to millions of American families and allows states to plan their budgets for several years into the future.
That’s a big deal, Mme. President. Let us keep that in mind as we look for ways to do more.
I’d like to thank Senator Wyden for his efforts on developing this legislation. I’d like to thank the other members of the Finance Committee who supported us all the way. Thank you to our distinguished Majority Leader and his team as well as the leaders in the House who worked alongside us.
I also want to thank the stakeholders across the country – the governors, care providers, and, of course, the families who depend on CHIP – for making their voices heard throughout this endeavor.
I look forward to working with all of you going forward so we can make sure we do right by the children who benefit from CHIP.
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