September 16,2014

Press Contact:

Charles Pope: 202-224-4515

Wyden Lauds Children's Health Insurance Program for Providing Crucial Help to At-Risk Kids and Families

Finance Chairman Also Notes Sen. Rockefeller’s Contributions Creating and Nurturing CHIP

WASHINGTON –Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., at a hearing today of the Health Care Subcommittee voiced strong support for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for the crucial vision, dental, behavioral, and medical care it provides to children nationwide.

“CHIP,” Wyden said, “provides essential medical and dental care to millions of children nationwide and thousands of Oregonians who otherwise are at risk of falling through the cracks. It’s reduced disparities in health coverage for economically vulnerable folks in this country and provided broader benefits that travel alongside kids who are healthy. Those facts are well known and well established.”

CHIP, which became law in 1997 and which today covers 8.4 million people, provides comprehensive health coverage to low-income children and pregnant women in families that have earn too much to qualify for Medicaid eligibility levels but not enough to afford health insurance. CHIP is jointly financed by the federal government and states, and the states are responsible for administering CHIP. Federal funding for CHIP expires next year.

While the hearing focused on CHIP, a second purpose was to recognize Health Care Subcommittee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va., for the instrumental role he played in creating CHIP and sustaining it over the years. Tuesday’s hearing marked Rockefeller’s final official duty as Subcommittee chairman before he retires.

“CHIP wasn’t a lone exception or a lucky aberration for Senator Rockefeller,” Wyden said. “It was, in fact, but one touchstone in a long and impressive a career driven by humility and a powerful, relentless, admirable desire to help those most in need.”

Witnesses at today’s hearing included Bruce D. Lesley, President, First Focus, Washington, D.C.;  Dr. James M. Perrin, President, American Academy of Pediatrics; Ms. Cathy Caldwell, Director, Bureau of Children's Health Insurance, Alabama Department of Public Health; andDr. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President, American Action Forum, Washington, D.C.

Their testimony is available here.

Wyden’s statement is available here.