Manchin, Capito push for C.H.I.P.
WASHINGTON — Both U.S. senators from West Virginia are urging Congress to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
C.H.I.P., which covers more than 20,000 children in West Virginia and 9 million nationwide, expired on Sept. 30. The five-year reauthorization of the 20-year-old C.H.I.P. is unclear as lawmakers debate how to financially support the $15.6 billion program.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has asked families in West Virginia for photos and their stories about how the program has impacted their lives and ensures children access to the health care services. Manchin said he will read the stories, which can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, on the floor of the Senate.
“Congress’ failure to reauthorize C.H.I.P. is disgraceful. That is why I want to hear from my fellow West Virginians about what C.H.I.P. has done for you,” he said. “I know your stories will inspire my colleagues to reauthorize the C.H.I.P. program so millions of kids aren’t in limbo and parents can rest easy knowing that their child has health care.”
According to the 2016 C.H.I.P. annual report prepared by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, 879 children in Wood County were covered by the program, 53 more than in the 2015 report.
Coverage in surrounding counties, the 2016 report said, are Jackson, 378; Roane, 283; Ritchie, 109; Tyler, 100; Pleasants, 87; Doddridge, 82; Calhoun, 76; Wirt, 59; Gilmer, 55.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, “urging swift action to extend funding” for the program before the end of the year.
“Throughout my time serving the state of West Virginia, I have supported C.H.I.P.. In the state legislature, I served on the committee charged with implementing the C.H.I.P. program in West Virginia. As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and as a United States Senator, I have voted for bipartisan legislation to reauthorize and expand the C.H.I.P. program,” Capito said. “The C.H.I.P. program remains essential for working families in West Virginia and across the nation.”
The program covers children of parents whose earnings disqualify them for Medicaid, but don’t make enough to afford private insurance.
The House in November approved a bill to extend the program by cutting other programs, which was opposed by Democrats. A Senate Finance Committee version passed in October continued the program without cuts.
Manchin said the state is expected to freeze enrollment in the program on Feb. 28. In West Virginia, the program is totally funded by the federal government.
Coverage under the program includes doctor visits, check-ups, hospital visits, immunizations, prescriptions, tests and X-rays, dental care, vision care, emergency care, mental health, diabetic supplies, urgent care or after hour clinic visits and case management for special needs.