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Illinois Legislative Senate Black Caucus: Congress needs to act on CHIP

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With the uncertainty of affordable healthcare looming, as of yesterday, Congress allowed the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provided low-cost health insurance to nine million children, to expire. The program is credited with keeping more than 300,000 Illinois children healthy.

Members of the Illinois Legislative Senate Black Caucus are voicing displeasure and pushing Congress to act before it’s too late. Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood), who also chairs the joint Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, delivered a clear message: “I can’t believe Congress let this expire. The Children’s Health Insurance Program is perhaps one of the most effective bipartisan success stories to come out of Washington in recent years. The program needs to be renewed now. I suggest they act swiftly.”

The caucus has stayed busy this summer continuing to focus on social justice for our most vulnerable populations. The caucus was instrumental in ensuring the education funding reform legislation was passed, in addition to delivering veto override votes for the first budget the state has seen in years.

“It’s simply irresponsible for our leaders on Capitol Hill to allow CHIP to expire. The health of our children is crucial not only to their success in the classroom, but to their overall well-being. I urge Congress to take the necessary steps to provide the federal funding for this program,” said Assistant Majority Leader Donne Trotter, (D-Chicago).

If action is not taken on restoring funding to the CHIP program, we could see a spike in underserved youth being unable to see the doctor for routine checkups, sick visits and other services. “Far too many individuals and children bear the burden of poor health care because of their economic status, and it’s simply not fair. Raising awareness on the issues that impact major health -- a disparity in minority communities -- is the first step in creating equality,” said Senate Majority Caucus Whip Mattie Hunter, (D-Chicago).

Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago): “This is a callous effort to use our youth as political pawns. Their health should be prioritized regardless of who is in leadership. Congress must act now to continue this important program and maintain our unbroken commitment to helping all Americans.”

Under the Affordable Care Act, the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA), created new funding in 2009 and again in 2013. CHIP was allowed to expire on September 30, 2017.