CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A champion of the Children’s Heath Insurance Program. U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller said the first seeds for CHIP were sown in 1997 and today 40 million U.S. children are covered by the program, including 200,000 in West Virginia.
The senior senator met with leaders of the state’s CHIP program, healthcare providers, adults who received care from CHIP growing up and other stakeholders during a meeting in Charleston at the Schoenbaum Family Enrichment Center Friday.
As he prepares to leave office next year after five terms in office, Rockefeller said he wants to make sure CHIP continues to expand and cover those children who might otherwise fall through the cracks. He said he always envisioned the program as more than just your typical insurance coverage
“One of the things I’m most proud of is that CHIP was really the first health care legislative program passed which included dental care and mental health care,” Rockefeller said.
The road for CHIP has been bumpy. Then-President George W. Bush vetoed the program in 2007, and this year’s sequester has put funding into question. That’s why Rockefeller is set to introduce the Medicaid and CHIP Continuous Coverage and Quality Act of 2013. It aims to eliminate inconsistent care by requiring 12 months of continuous eligibility in Medicaid and CHIP.
Rockefeller has a theory on why so many people, including some West Virginians, aren’t champions of the program.
“It isn’t that well known, but its effects are profound!”
He stressed cutting the budget in the future should not put CHIP in jeopardy. It’s too important to cut. That’s why he’s hoping younger members of Congress will pick up the banner for CHIP and make sure the program continues to succeed.