No one disagrees that Congress must be serious about addressing the deficit, even in the name of the next generation. However, it is alarming that, to do so, many lawmakers are willing to cut the very programs which are critical to the health, well-being, and development of our nation’s children, especially as families struggle with the ongoing recession. In a Politico article published last week, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) explained the ways in which he believes the health reform law must be changed. We urge Senator Hatch to consider the devastating effect that some of the proposed changes, particularly those to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), would have on millions of children.

As a result, we urge Senator Hatch to reconsider legislation that would eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) “maintenance of effort” (MOE) provision which requires states to maintain coverage for those currently enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP, a program he championed. Ending the MOE would threaten coverage for over 14 million children across the country.

We need only look to Senator Hatch’s neighbor to the south for an example of this threat. In fact, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is planning an outright repeal of CHIP coverage to all children in Arizona if the state is able to disregard the MOE requirement. It doesn’t take a budget or health care expert to recognize that cutting basic health services or balancing budgets on the backs of children doesn’t add up to a positive future for our next generation.

The success of CHIP in tandem with Medicaid is indisputable. In its first decade, these programs cut the numbers of uninsured children by one-third. And today, more than a third of all children in America rely on Medicaid and CHIP for their vaccinations, well-child check-ups, to have their cavities filled, and for eyeglasses, among other basic services.

Families across the nation are grateful to Senators Hatch, Kennedy, Chafee, Rockefeller, Roth, Breaux, and Kerry who, in the spirit of bipartisanship, struck the CHIP compromise to ensure that low-income children are able to have their basic health needs met. Now is not the time to threaten that coverage for millions of low-income children across the country.

As for the assertion that health reform imposes costs on states, that analysis only looks at potential costs and fails to consider the enormous opportunities for savings that states can achieve through proper implementation of health reform. In fact, a recent Urban Institute/First Focus report found that there would be net savings for states that could range between $40.6 billion to as high as $131.6 billion between 2014-2019 due to the passage of health reform. This finding is confirmed by other studies by the Lewin Group and the Council of Economic Advisors.

In the spirit of bipartisanship that brought about the very compromise Senator Hatch describes regarding CHIP’s creation, we urge the Senator to work with his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to, yet again, ensure all of our nation’s children receive access to the health care they need to thrive and grow. Thanks to what many believe to be the best bipartisan health care achievement in the last 40 years, we have been able to successfully cut the nation’s uninsured rate in half, or to less than 10 percent. Our nation’s leaders must not allow a rollback of such coverage. Children are one-quarter of our population but all of our future. Turning back the clock now would undermine the very work that Senator Hatch is so proud to have championed.