***VIDEO/PHOTO RELEASE*** Menendez, Pascrell Join Pediatric Leaders in Call for Long-Term CHIP Reauthorization

***VIDEO/PHOTO RELEASE*** Menendez, Pascrell Join Pediatric Leaders in Call for Long-Term CHIP Reauthorization

Health coverage at stake for over 200K NJ children, 9M nationally

PATERSON, N.J. – U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy, and Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (N.J.-09) called on Congress today to fully fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that lapsed in September, endangering health care coverage for nine million children across the United States. In New Jersey, more than 230,000 children from low-income and working families rely on CHIP’s support for NJ FamilyCare. The lawmakers were also joined by 18 year old Zaire Dollar of Paterson, NJ whose NJ Family Care coverage is funded by CHIP.

“I never thought the day would come when Congress would put children’s lives at risk by allowing funding for CHIP to lapse,” said Sen. Menendez.  “My bipartisan KIDS Act would fully fund CHIP for the next five years, covering nine million kids at a cost equal to just one-tenth of one-percent of the lavish corporate tax cuts Republicans rammed through Congress at lightning speed. Just this week, we learned that if Congress were to fund CHIP for ten years, we’d actually reduce the deficit by $6 billion. My colleagues in the Majority are out of excuses, and it’s time we vote on a long-term solution that upholds our promise to America’s children.”

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“Allowing funding to expire for a program as vital as CHIP is an embarrassment to this Congress and to the people we represent. Although members of both parties have pledged to renew money for CHIP, which provides health coverage to millions of low-income children, partisan blockades have stalled negotiations,” said Rep. Pascrell. “The bill passed by the House in November that extended CHIP funding for five years is not enough. It is time for Democrats and Republicans to come together and agree on comprehensive CHIP reauthorization before it is too late. We cannot turn our backs on America’s children due to partisanship.”

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The Trump Administration has since announced that the short-term extension of CHIP funding could be depleted by the end of the month, far earlier than previous projections.

In September, Sen. Menendez co-introduced the bipartisan KIDS Act to fund CHIP through 2022 and preserve the express lane option for enrollment, the childhood obesity research demonstration, and the pediatric quality measures.  The KIDS Act also preserved the enhanced Federal matching rate at current levels through Fiscal Year 2019 and increased the enhanced rate to 11.5% in Fiscal Year 2020, before returning to traditional CHIP levels through Fiscal Year 2022. While the bill passed the Senate Finance Committee with unanimous support, it has since languished without a vote by the full Senate.

The lawmakers were joined at a press conference at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson the hospital’s president and CEO, Kevin J. Slavin; Dr. Joseph A. Holahan, MD, associate chairman of St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital; and Bert Mulder of the New Jersey Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“CHIP is an important tool in keeping our children healthy,” said American Academy of Pediatrics President Colleen Kraft, MD, FAAP. “CHIP helps working families with affordable health care for their children. Without it, children have to stop vital medical treatments such as chemotherapy for cancer, inhalers for asthma, and other necessary medical treatments.”

“The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that CHIP will result in a zero-dollar expenditure for the federal government over the next 10 years; the value for providing healthcare for nine million children in the U.S. makes this deal an important investment for our children, including over 230,000 children in NJ,” said Fran Gallagher, CEO of the New Jersey Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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