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The fate of the 20-year old Children’s Health Insurance Program hangs in the balance as Congress hasn’t appropriated funds for its continuation.

CHIP provides low-cost health coverage through a state and federal partnership to more than 9 million children nationwide and about 370,000 pregnant women. In Texas, 400,000 children depend on CHIP for preventive, primary and specialty health care services, and 35,000 pregnant women rely on it for a healthy pregnancy.

Federal funding for CHIP expired in September. Since then, Texas has been relying on carryover funds to keep the program going. Those funds could run out by the end of January; although Texas has requested a special disbursement of federal funding to sustain the program through February.

The state legally is required to send health coverage termination letters to children’s families 30 days before coverage ends. Depending on whether it receives the bridge funding, those letters could go out at the end of December or January.

Without continued CHIP funding, Congress risks adding to the uninsured in Texas – already the largest number in the nation — and undermining the long-term health and wellness of our nation’s most valuable resource.

Given all that CHIP offers to Texas children, families and health care providers, Congress needs to take quick action to continue CHIP funding. If funding isn’t approved by Dec. 15, the Texas Hospital Association encourages member hospitals to meet with their members of Congress during the holiday recess to ask for continued CHIP funding.

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