39 governors support extending children’s health care package

Governors from 39 states have formally supported extending funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) after the House Energy and Commerce Committee, led by Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), joined its Senate counterparts in requesting their input earlier this year. 

The program extends Medicaid eligibility to millions of children. Since its creation in 1997, the number of uninsured children in the country was cut in half, to approximately 7 percent.

CHIP covered 8.1 million children in 2013 while the cost of the joint state and federal partnership was approximately $13 billion, Pew Charitable Trusts reported.

In the request to governors, the Congressional letter asked for details about the costs of CHIP coverage and the benefits it provides. All 34 governors who mentioned cost in their reply reported that CHIP coverage is more affordable than private coverage, and 24 governors reported that CHIP provides better coverage.

Also in their formal response, the governors generally agreed that action should be taken on CHIP before the states’ budgetary cycles. It is authorized through September 2019, but funding must be renewed by October 2015.

In terms of improvements to the program, the Senate Finance Committee reported that most suggestions from governors centered upon simplifying enrollment, increasing state flexibility and creating incentive payments to states.