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U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Calls on Congress to Act on Children’s Health Insurance

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Serves as Vital Lifeline for Low-Income and Middle Class Families, Nearly 75,000 Wisconsin Children at Risk of Losing Affordable Health Insurance

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today urged her congressional colleagues to pass legislation that would extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) until 2019, preserving effective, low-cost health insurance for thousands of Wisconsin children. Without Congressional action, CHIP will expire in September and up to 74,569 Wisconsin children could be at risk of losing coverage and middle class families could be forced to pay hundreds of more dollars for health care coverage. CHIP has a long track record of bipartisan support and positive results by providing comprehensive, affordable health coverage for 10 million children. This program has drastically reduced the uninsured rate for children and is critical for helping middle-class and lower-income families afford health care.

Senator Baldwin cosponsored legislation that would extend CHIP funding for four more years – thereby guaranteeing millions of children nationwide access to comprehensive, affordable health care. The Protecting & Retaining Our Children’s Health Insurance Program Act of 2015 (PRO-CHIP), would extend funding for CHIP through 2019, consistent with its current authorization. Without action, federal funding for CHIP will expire in September 2015. The bipartisan bill, supported by 41 Senators and 22 governors from across the country, would give state health systems like Wisconsin’s, as well as the parents who enroll in plans offered under the state program, the peace of mind in knowing that CHIP will be there for the near future.

“Wisconsin has a strong history of providing kids with affordable, quality health insurance through CHIP in our BadgerCare program. Our hardworking families shouldn’t have to face the choice of taking their child to the doctor or facing exorbitant medical costs because of congressional inaction,” said Senator Baldwin. “If the Republican majority does not act, thousands of Wisconsin children could lose their affordable healthcare; low-income and middle class families would face increasing premiums; and Wisconsin taxpayers would be exposed to higher costs.”

For more than a decade, CHIP has served as a vital bridge between Medicaid and the private insurance market, helping millions of working families afford health insurance for their children. In Wisconsin, BadgerCare Plus serves thousands of CHIP beneficiaries, providing these children access to high-quality, affordable, pediatric health care to meet their unique needs.  More than 90% of eligible children in Wisconsin were enrolled in the program last year, which offers more comprehensive benefits than other commercial coverage in Wisconsin.

If CHIP funding is not extended, Wisconsin children, families and taxpayers could face significant losses in 2016:

  • 74,569 Wisconsin children would be at-risk of losing coverage.
  • Wisconsin could lose $51-61 million in federal funding at current levels for CHIP funding under BadgerCare Plus.
  • The Wisconsin Medicaid program could stand to lose approximately $15-17 million in federal funding.

Under the current program, CHIP provides comprehensive coverage, including routine check-ups, immunizations, doctor visits, prescriptions, dental and vision care, inpatient and outpatient hospital care, laboratory and X-ray services, and emergency services. While the health premium costs are different in each state, under the CHIP guidelines, no enrollee is required to pay more than 5 percent of their family's income for the year.

The full list of Senators cosponsoring the PRO-CHIP bill includes: Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), and U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ed Markey (D-MA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Mark Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).