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Rural Children at Risk if Congress Fails to Act on CHIP
Ed Walz (Former Staff)Health
Washington – A report released today by the bipartisan children’s advocacy organization First Focus finds that public health coverage provided through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is even more important for children in rural areas than their urban counterparts. The report, authored for First Focus by William O’ Hare, reveals that in 2012, 47 percent of rural children were covered through CHIP or Medicaid, compared to 38 percent of urban children. But, unlike Medicaid, federal funding for CHIP will expire next year unless Congress acts first.
“CHIP is incredibly important to rural kids,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus.
CHIP, created by a Republican-controlled Congress and a Democratic president in 1997, has consistently earned broad, bipartisan support in public opinion surveys. The successful private-public initiative gives states flexibility to design health plans that respond to their children’s needs, and nationwide, CHIP and Medicaid have helped to cut uninsurance among children in half.
Under current law, federal funding for CHIP will end on September 30, 2015. Because CHIP is a state-federal partnership, state budget officials must make decisions about the future of their states’ CHIP programs well in advance of that deadline. Advocates in every state in the Union joined First Focus earlier this year in urging Congress to act quickly to protect CHIP funding.
“CHIP is a bipartisan health care plan that works for kids and families, but its future is at risk,” said Lesley. “Congress must act this year to protect CHIP and children’s health, including kids in rural America.”
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First Focus is a bipartisan advocacy organization dedicated to making children and families the priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.firstfocus.net.