Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutionsby Senator Sherrod Brown
Posted on 2015-02-12
BROWN (for himself, Ms. Stabenow, Mr. Wyden, Mr. Casey,
Mr. Reid, Mr. Durbin, Ms. Baldwin, Mr. Bennet, Mr.
[[Page S997]] Blumenthal, Mr. Booker, Mrs. Boxer, Ms. Cantwell, Mr. Cardin, Mr. Carper, Mr. Coons, Mr. Donnelly, Mr. Franken, Mrs. Gillibrand, Mr. Heinrich, Ms. Heitkamp, Ms. Hirono, Mr. Kaine, Mr. King, Ms. Klobuchar, Mr. Leahy, Mr. Markey, Mr. Manchin, Mrs. McCaskill, Mr. Menendez, Mr. Merkley, Ms. Mikulski, Mr. Murphy, Mrs. Murray, Mr. Nelson, Mr. Peters, Mr. Reed, Mr. Sanders, Mr. Schatz, Mr. Schumer, Mrs. Shaheen, Mr. Tester, Mr. Udall, Mr. Warner, Ms. Warren, Mr. Whitehouse, and Mrs. Feinstein): S. 522. A bill to amend title XXI of the Social Security Act to extend the Children's Health Insurance Program, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Finance.
Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, we have made great strides in recent years ensuring that Americans of all ages have access to quality health care. Part of this success comes from the Children's Health Insurance Program created in 1997 as a joint State-Federal health insurance program for low- to moderate-income children and pregnant women.
Because of CHIP, 10 million children, including 130,000 children in my State--most of whom are sons and daughters of working parents who are in low-income jobs and not making enough money to afford insurance and for employers that typically don't offer insurance--have access to health care today--health care they may not have received otherwise.
We know CHIP works not just in the number of children insured under the program but because of the flexibility CHIP provides States and the quality of care children receive. It works. It works for children, it works for parents, and it works for communities.
That is the good news. The bad news is, even though the law is on the books until 2019, the funding for CHIP will expire in September. That is why I am proud to introduce legislation today with my colleagues Senators Stabenow, Wyden, Casey, and Leader Reid to protect the CHIP program and to extend its funding to match the authorization until 2019.
The Protecting and Retaining our Children's Health Insurance Program--PRO-CHIP--Act is straightforward, it is common sense, and will provide much needed budget predictability for our States.
The Republican Governor of my State supports CHIP. He understands they need it in Ohio and across the country sooner rather than later so they can properly budget and plan and avoid gaps in health care for vulnerable children.
Again, these 130,000 children in my State alone are overwhelmingly sons and daughters of working parents who don't make enough money to pay for health insurance out of pocket, and who are working at companies and businesses that don't provide health insurance.
I am honored that 30 of our Senate colleagues have already joined as cosponsors. Providing health insurance to low-income children isn't just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do. Children stay healthier, families function better, neighborhoods are better off, and children do better in school as a result, with fewer sick days. They feel better when they are at school because they have a family doctor, because they have health insurance.
We know it works. Listen to these numbers: Thanks to CHIP, the number of uninsured children has fallen by half, from 14 percent in 1997--when this bill passed with bipartisan support, and it has been extended and reauthorized a couple of times since--to a record low of 7 percent in 2012.
In nearly every State of the Union, Governors planning their State budgets and parents planning their family budgets are relying on us to extend CHIP now. We should not go right up to the deadline, as some are now talking about in terms of shutting the government down. We should not go up to the deadline but do it now. It would provide a sigh of relief for parents, not only for financial reasons but because CHIP means better access to comprehensive care for their kids.
Think about the anxiety parents face knowing they have insurance today under CHIP but not being certain they will have it this time next year. We should act together to protect this vital program that provides comprehensive health care coverage for 10 million children. States will start to roll back their CHIP program and funding for the program will expire at the end of September if we don't act soon.
This has always been bipartisan. It should continue to be. I look forward to working with all my colleagues to prioritize children's health and help pass this PRO-CHIP legislation as soon as possible.
______ By Mr. GRASSLEY (for himself and Mr. Kirk): S. 529. A bill to improve the services available to runaway and homeless youth who are victims of trafficking, to improve the response to victims of child sex trafficking, to direct the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking to identify strategies to prevent children from becoming victims of trafficking and review trafficking prevention efforts, to protect and assist in the recovery of victims of trafficking, and for other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary.