WASHINGTON, DC – Today, a growing coalition of more than 600 national and state-based organizations have joined together in support of preserving the successful Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as part of efforts to reform our nation’s health care system.

In a letter sent today, the coalition came out in strong support of an amendment to the Senate health reform legislation offered by Senator Robert Casey (D-PA), which would protect and improve coverage for millions of American children in low-income working families by preserving and fully funding CHIP through 2019.

“Over the last decade, our nation has secured health coverage for millions of children living in working families through the Children’s Health Insurance Program. And this outpouring of support by hundreds of organizations at the national and state level shows the immensely positive impact of this program across the country,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, the bipartisan children’s advocacy organization spearheading the effort.

“Recognizing the success of CHIP, Congress renewed, improved, and expanded the program on a bipartisan basis less than one year ago. Senator Casey’s amendment seizes this historic opportunity to build upon CHIP’s effectiveness, ensuring that children will be better off, not worse off, as a result of health reform. indeed, his efforts to remember children in health reform should be praised by all those who care about the health and well-being of the next generation of Americans.”

In addition to funding CHIP through 2019, the Casey Amendment accomplishes the following:

  • Maintaining current CHIP eligibility through 2013, and setting a floor for income eligibility for children in all states at 250 percent of poverty ($55,125 for a family of four) beginning in 2014;
  • Streamlining enrollment procedures making it easier for children to get coverage and keep it;
  • Ensuring that coverage for children remains affordable;
  • Guaranteeing all children in CHIP the comprehensive care they need from head to toe; and
  • Requiring an HHS report in 2016 that will compare coverage for children in CHIP with coverage for children in the new Health Insurance Exchange and if coverage (including benefits, cost-sharing, premiums, and other features) is comparable or better, children can be transitioned from CHIP into the Exchange in 2019.

The letter reads, “America’s children have a lot at stake in health reform. More than eight million children remain uninsured, and more are losing employer-sponsored coverage daily. Families are just one playground accident away from medical bankruptcy. Each day a child is uninsured is a lost opportunity to strengthen our next generation, America’s future.”

Signatories to the letter include leading national organizations such as First Focus, Children’s Defense Fund, Voices For America’s Children, SEIU, United Way Worldwide, Families USA, NAACP, Child Welfare League of America, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and The National Council of La Raza.