December 21,2017

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202-224-4515, Katie Niederee and Julia Lawless

Hatch Urges Colleagues to Support Long-Term CHIP Extension

Utah Senator says, “A long-term reauthorization is essential, so that states…can plan into the future and the families that benefit from CHIP can be sure that coverage for their needy children won’t just disappear.”

WASHINGTON – Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today spoke on the Senate floor about the importance of passing a long-term CHIP reauthorization bill. Hatch and Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced the Keeping Kids’ Insurance Dependable and Secure (KIDS) Act (S. 1827), which passed the Senate Finance Committee by voice vote on Oct. 4, 2017. Full legislative text can be found here

Hatch delivered the following remarks: 

Mr. President, I’d like to take a moment to discuss the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP.  

As we all know, the authorization for CHIP expired at the end of September.  Since that time, states have been utilizing their reserve funds in order to cover the health care needs of kids.  And, for a number of states, those funds are due to run out in the near future. 

There have been a number of claims from our friends on the other side and some of their allies in the media that Republicans have ignored the CHIP program, that we don’t intend to reauthorize it, or that we supposedly placed a higher priority on “tax cuts for the rich” than on providing health insurance for needy children. 

These claims are ridiculous. 

I come at this issue from two angles, Mr. President.  I am both the original author of CHIP and I currently chair the committee with jurisdiction over the program.  

No one should doubt my commitment to continuing the CHIP program.  For two decades now, I have been a supporter of CHIP and have worked with members of both parties to keep it moving forward and functioning properly – even in times when my Democratic colleagues have pursued a more divisive approach with the program.   

That commitment continues to this day. 

On October 4, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously reported a bipartisan bill that would reauthorize CHIP for five years.  

In my view, a long-term reauthorization is essential, so that states, including my home state of Utah, can plan into the future and the families that benefit from CHIP can be sure that coverage for their needy children won’t just disappear.  

It appears that the year-end continuing resolution could include a short-term reauthorization for CHIP.  That’s far from ideal and, as the leading advocate for this program, I have no desire to see it become subject to repeated short-term fixes and constantly looming deadlines.  

Mr. President, I intend to continue working with Senator Wyden, and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in both the Senate and the House, to enact the KIDS’ Act in a fiscally responsible manner as soon as possible.  Doing so is essential to providing certainty for families and states.  

I ask unanimous consent that the next portion of my remarks be placed in a separate part of the record.