If Congress Doesn’t Act Fast on Children’s Health Insurance, Millions Could Be at Risk

Last Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee announced it had reached a bipartisan agreement to extend funding for the national Children’s Health Insurance Program for five more years. The announcement, coming after months of pressure from children’s advocacy organizations, marked the first step toward renewing funding for the program, which provides health insurance for nearly nine million low-income children.

The catch: That funding runs out on September 30. So unless Congress can draft, pass, and reconcile the actual legislation in less than two weeks, families nationwide may be at risk of losing health coverage entirely for their children or facing soaring premiums.

“Here in New York, we’re all waiting with bated breath, because there would be an awful lot of work that would need to happen at the state level” should the funding not be renewed, says Ben Anderson, director of health policy for the Children’s Defense Fund–New York, one of the organizations that has been campaigning for an extender bill. “The deal that was announced sounds promising, but there’s still a lot of work to be done” before the deadline.

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