12.14.17

Peters Floor Remarks on Need to Reauthorize Children's Health Insurance Program

Peters: “It would be unconscionable to rip health care services away from children during the most formative years of their life.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) spoke on the Senate floor on the need to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The CHIP program provides health care coverage to over 100,000 children in Michigan and more than 9 million children nationally. Below is video and text of his remarks as prepared for delivery:

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“Over two months ago I stood here in this chamber urging my colleagues to pass legislation that will prevent kids enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance program from losing their health care.

“The Children’s Health Insurance Program – or CHIP – provides health care coverage to over 100,000 children in my home state of Michigan and more than 9 million children nationally.

“I recall welcoming the news that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hatch and Ranking Member Wyden had reached a bipartisan agreement to extend the health care benefits for children. They worked together and went through regular order. The Finance Committee held a hearing and a markup on the bill in October.

“We all know that regular order has become a rare event in the Senate – and I appreciated the bipartisan effort to have a Senate vote on a bill that is critical to our nation’s children.

“I certainly expected that this bipartisan bill would come to the floor – and pass with broad bipartisan support – thus bringing relief to families across the nation who are worried about whether their children will continue to have health care in 2018.

“Unfortunately – in the months since those good faith efforts – we still have not seen a vote on this important legislation.

“This is inexcusable. We must take action now.

“States are already beginning to notify families that their children’s health plans may be cancelled – yes, cancelled – if Congress does not act. States like Louisiana, Texas, Virginia and others have announced they may run out of funds within weeks.

“In my home state of Michigan, I’ve heard from parents who are worried about whether their children will still be able to see their pediatricians next year.

“I’ve also heard from pediatricians who take care of these children how children will be hurt if their health care is taken away.

“It would be unconscionable to rip health care services away from children during the most formative years of their life. It would be unconscionable to put new roadblocks up for families whose children need their annual physicals and vaccines before they can go to school. And it would be unconscionable to increase health care costs for working families who are just trying to keep their children healthy and give them the opportunity to prosper.

“This is not a partisan issue.

“In 1997, President Bill Clinton worked with a Republican Majority in both the Senate – and the House of Representatives – to successfully pass the Children’s Health Insurance program into law. That legislation passed with 85 votes in the Senate, because providing needed health care services to children should never be a partisan issue. The CHIP program has been reauthorized on a bipartisan basis since its inception because it is effective.

“CHIP is working for our nation’s children, and we should be too.

“I urge my colleagues across the aisle to call for a vote on legislation to extend CHIP and to pass it without delay. Let’s do what is right for our country’s children and families and pass this bipartisan legislation now."