03.18.15

SCHUMER: CONGRESS MUST ACT ASAP SO 275,000 NY CHILDREN DO NOT LOSE THEIR LOW-COST HEALTH INSURANCE THIS SUMMER – SCHUMER LAUNCHES EFFORT TO EXTEND FED FUNDING THAT HELPS MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES AFFORD HEALTH CARE FOR THEIR CHILDREN; PUSHES BILL THAT WOULD RE-UP CHILDREN’S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM UNTIL 2019

Children’s Health Insurance Program Is A Critical Lifeline for Low- To Moderate-income Children and Pregnant Women; Program Supports Comprehensive Care – CHIP Is Critical For Families Whose Income Is Too High to Qualify For Medicaid; A Family of 4 Can Make Up To $100K & Qualify for CHIP

 

Schumer Pushes Bill To Extend Program for Four Years, Wants Extension By End of Month; If CHIP Is Not Renewed, More Than 116,000 Upstate NY Families Could Lose Out on $414 Million in Fed Funds; Families Could See Premiums Lower Than $9 Per Month Skyrocket to $400 – Program Is Jointly Funded By Fed Gov & States; Passing Extension Soon Is Critical for Local Budgets

 

In the Capital Region, 16,273 Residents Have CHIP Plans; In WNY, 14,475; In CNY, 15,581; In the Rochester-Finger Lakes, 16,670; In the Hudson Valley, 37,100; In the Southern Tier, 8,726; And In the North Country, 7,782

 

Today, on a conference call with reporters, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer urged his colleagues in Congress to pass legislation that would extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) until 2019, preserving effective, low-cost health plans for nearly 275,000 New York children that are currently in jeopardy. Without Congressional action, CHIP will expire in September and middle class families who pay less than $9 per month for health plans for their children could be forced to pay anywhere from $50-$400 for coverage. CHIP is critical for helping middle-class and lower-income families afford health care, specifically those whose income is too high to qualify for Medicaid. New York State could lose out on up to an estimated $414 million in federal funds in 2016 alone if Congress allows funding for CHIP to expire. Schumer said he is pushing to re-authorize this program now – and wants the extension to last for four years – and he is working to include it as part of must-pass legislation this month called the “doc fix” instead of trying to pass a stand-alone bill later this year. Schumer said that letting this program expire would be unacceptable because it provides families with affordable, comprehensive coverage; and Schumer prefers a longer, four-year extension as opposed to a two-year extension that others have proposed. He said families should not have to switch their plans and doctors as a result of Congressional inaction.

 

“When it comes to something as important as health care, we cannot allow a situation to arise in which children cannot get the checkup or prescription they need because their family cannot afford the payments or insurance. For nearly two decades, the federal Children's Health Insurance Program has provided the critical funding necessary to help New York State bring vital health care access to middle-class and lower-income children who would otherwise be left out. CHIP has been a lifeline to millions of families across the country and to hundreds of thousands across New York State. Allowing this program to expire and its funding lapse would really make people scratch their heads and say, ‘What the heck is going on in Washington?’ Extending this program as long as we can, to 2019, should be a no-brainer, and I will be pushing my colleagues in Congress to pass a four-year extension without delay,” said Schumer. “No family should ever have to make the agonizing decision between taking their child to the doctor and footing the cost of exorbitant medical bills they cannot afford. We must reauthorize CHIP and keep an essential piece of our affordable health care puzzle in place.”

 

Schumer explained that the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a federal-state partnership that allows middle class families to access affordable health care coverage for their children. Specifically, the CHIP program provides coverage for families whose income is too high to qualify for Medicaid; a family of four, for example, making under $95,400 per year, but above the poverty level, qualifies for CHIP. CHIP is a federal funding stream, Schumer said, that provides states with the money needed to support their individual state programs. Schumer explained that New York State’s CHIP-funded program, Child Health Plus, is able to deliver a critical low-cost health care option for hundreds of thousands of moderate-income children and pregnant women across the state every year because of these federal funds. New Yorkers eligible for this program can sign up for Child Health Plus through New York State and then receive these vital health services through their private insurance provider’s plan. Currently, the federal CHIP program contributes 65 percent of the funding needed to support New York State’s Child Health Plus program, which is approximately $34.5 million per month. New York State’s contribution to the Child Health Plus program is approximately $18.6 million per month, or the remaining 35 percent. Schumer said that, because Child Health Plus receives such a significant portion of its funding—roughly $414 million—from the federal CHIP program, the families of the nearly 275,000 children across New York State and 116,607 across Upstate New York that rely on these CHIP funds could be forced to pay skyrocketing premiums if the federal funding were to expire. 

 

Schumer explained that the federal CHIP program is set to expire in September if Congress does not act, meaning New York State could lose out on nearly $414 million if it cannot access CHIP funds for Child Health Plus. Schumer said if this critical federal program were to expire and could no longer help fund New York State’s program, middle class families who pay less than $9 per month for health plans for their children could be forced to pay anywhere from $50-$400 for the same coverage. Schumer said this could mean the loss of affordable health insurance for many enrollees across New York State. Without CHIP-funded programs like New York’s Child Health Plus, Schumer argued, the state as a whole would have a difficult time maintaining is current, low rate of below-6 percent for uninsured children.

 

Schumer announced today that he is co-sponsoring legislation that would extend CHIP funding for four more years – thereby giving millions of children nationwide access to comprehensive, affordable health care – and he is pushing to attach it to a piece of must-pass legislation—such as the “doc fix” or Sustainable Growth Rate legislation coming through the Senate Finance Committee this month. Schumer said this is the best possible avenue to get this done quickly and not wait to try to pass stand-alone legislation later this year. Since its implementation, CHIP has proven to be cost-effective, and over 10 million children across the U.S. have enrolled in the program, including the more than 275,000 New York families. This legislation, called the Protecting & Retaining Our Children’s Health Insurance Program Act of 2015 (PRO-CHIP), would extend funding for CHIP through 2019, consistent with its current authorization. Without action, federal funding for CHIP will expire in September 2015 and these nearly 275,000 families, Schumer said, could be left in the lurch. This bi-partisan bill is supported by 41 Senators and 22 governors from across the country. Furthermore, Schumer said, extending the bill would give state health systems like New York’s, as well as the parents who enroll in plans offered under the Child Health Plus program, the peace of mind in knowing that CHIP will be there for the near future.

 

During the call, Schumer revealed the number of CHIP participants—which are enrolled through New York State’s predominantly federally-funded Child Health Plus program—in each New York State region and county. Currently, there are approximately 274,814 total Child Health Plus enrollees throughout New York State, 116,607 of whom—roughly 42 percent—are located throughout Upstate New York.

 

         In the Capital Region, there are an estimated 16,273 total children enrolled in New York’s Child Health Plus program.

         In Central New York, there are an estimated 15,581 total children enrolled in New York’s Child Health Plus program.

         In Western New York, there are an estimated 14,475 total children enrolled in New York’s Child Health Plus program.

         In Rochester-Finger Lakes, there are an estimated 16,670 total children enrolled in New York’s Child Health Plus program.

         In the Southern Tier, there are an estimated 8,726 total children enrolled in New York’s Child Health Plus program.

         In the Hudson Valley, there are an estimated 37,100 total children enrolled in New York’s Child Health Plus program.

         In the North Country, there are an estimated 7,782 total children enrolled in New York’s Child Health Plus program.

         On Long Island, there are an estimated 57,977 total children enrolled in New York’s Child Health Plus program.

 

Currently, the federal government’s CHIP program contributes approximately $34.5 million per month for New York’s Child Health Plus program, or 65 percent of the total government share. New York State’s contribution to Child Health Plus is approximately $18.6 million per month, or 35 percent.

 

Under the current program, CHIP provides comprehensive coverage, including routine check-ups, immunizations, doctor visits, prescriptions, dental and vision care, inpatient and outpatient hospital care, laboratory and X-ray services, and emergency services. While the health premium costs are different in each state, under the CHIP guidelines, no enrollee is required to pay more than 5 percent of their family's income for the year. New York State's Child Health Plus program allows children 6 to 18 years of age who fall between 160-400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level to pay a monthly fee lower than $9 per child.

 

The CHIP program was initially created in 1997 under former President Bill Clinton for low- to moderate-income children and pregnant women who are not Medicaid eligible. Within three years of its initial passage, all 50 states opted into the program, bringing health insurance to millions of middle-class Americans. After being sworn into office, President Obama signed the last reauthorization as one of his first acts as president in 2009. Since its inception 18 years ago, it has decreased the uninsured rate among children by 50 percent. Now, over 10 million children are insured in the CHIP program, including the nearly 275,000 around New York. Schumer said the need for prompt federal action to maintain funding to this critical program is paramount as states around the country, like New York, begin the process of constructing their annual budgets.

 

The full list of Senators cosponsoring the PRO-CHIP bill includes: Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), and U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ed Markey (D-MA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Mark Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

 

 

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