Lawmakers Extend CHIP; Funding for Community Health Centers Still Needed

Congress renewed funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six more years as part of a short-term funding extension bill to support the federal government through February 8, 2018. With funding secured for six more years, states will have the resources to continue covering medical and dental services for children and families.

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“We are grateful to Congress for the extension of CHIP” Truett said. “On behalf of our 377 community partners and the children and families they serve, we appreciate some peace of mind that they will be able provide children with much needed medical and dental coverage. We also sincerely thank everyone who called, emailed or shared social media messages with their legislator – their hard work and advocacy led to the bill’s passage.”

The Children’s Health Insurance Program provides medical and dental services to nearly 9 million children and over 300,000 pregnant women. Since funding ran out in September of last year, states were faced with tough budget decisions and their programs were at risk of being cut, or in some cases, eliminated. Letters had already gone out to families in some states putting the ability to provide for children at risk.

While grateful for the passage of a six-year extension for CHIP, Congress did not pass long-term funding for Community Health Centers, which jeopardizes care for 27 million Americans who rely on them.  As a result, Community Health Centers face a 70% cut in funding and are forced to scale back critical services, including dental. Of the 10,400 sites operating, as many as 2,800 are expected to close altogether. In addition to providing long-term funding for Community Health Centers, OHA is calling on Congress to fund the National Health Service Corps, which is critical to providing scholarships for dental students, like OHA’s former intern at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.

“As such, we urge Congress to work swiftly to fund these invaluable public health programs on a long-term basis,” Truett said. “CHIP has been a testament to successful bipartisan work since it was first passed in 1997 and has drastically reduced the number of uninsured children across the country,” Truett said. “The work is not over.  OHA is committed to continue to work with our partners to urge Congress to find long-term policy solutions to bring stability to the CHIP program and the families seeking healthcare.”

Take action and weigh in with Members of Congress and their staff, and urge them to make health center funding their highest priority. Visit National Association of Community Health Center’s Action Center

Learn more about OHA’s Advocacy efforts.