"Funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expired 111 days ago, and 9 million children and their families are still waiting for Congress to act. There is no excuse for Congress failing to extend long-term funding for CHIP, which is a vital source of coverage for these children. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office reports that extending CHIP for 10 years would reduce federal spending by $6 billion.
"Parents of the children covered by CHIP are not concerned with which political party or chamber of Congress is to blame for the continued inaction; they simply want reassurance that a program they depend on to keep their children healthy will continue to be there for them.
"CHIP can be voted on at any time, regardless of how Congress decides to proceed with funding the federal government. The American Academy of Pediatrics urges Congress to extend CHIP for the longest possible duration at the soonest possible moment so that families can continue to rely on the care their children need.
"CHIP is not the only program being held up by politics; the Maternal Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV), which serves at-risk pregnant women and parents with young children, joins several other vital public health and safety net programs in also being left unfunded due to congressional inaction. The communities these programs serve already face uncertainty when it comes to their health care, which is now exacerbated by Congress' failure to extend the programs long-term.
"The futures of roughly 700,000 Dreamers—immigrants brought to the United States as children and who are now young adults—also hang in the balance of congressional inaction. They deserve a permanent solution that will allow them to remain in the United States.
"Since Congress has yet to reach an agreement to fund the federal government, we are also now facing a government shutdown at midnight tonight. This carries real consequences for children and families, especially those who rely on vital nutrition, housing and health care assistance, many of whose lives were affected by the last federal government shut down.
"Congressional inaction on CHIP along with a government shutdown is a dangerous combination for families. Taken together, this lack of meaningful action to fund programs so important to children's health has pediatricians alarmed, concerned and engaged in advocacy for our patients.
"We will continue urging elected officials to fund CHIP and MIECHV long-term, to find a permanent solution that will protect Dreamers, and to keep the federal government open so that children can get the care they need no matter where they live."
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds.