Washington, DC – Tonight, in a bipartisan vote of 92-8, the U.S. Senate passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, which will extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), renew the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV), and permanently repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula to avoid annual cuts to Medicare payments. The Senate’s action follows a recent vote of 392-37 in the U.S. House of Representatives, sending the bill to President Obama for his signature.
“Every child needs sound nutrition, nurturing relationships and safe environments. Home visiting programs and CHIP help meet these needs by ensuring access to critical services in and outside the home for every child,” said AAP President Sandra G. Hassink, MD, FAAP. “Pediatricians have been speaking up in support of these programs on Capitol Hill and in state governors’ offices, and the bipartisan action we’ve seen from our federal leaders demonstrates that our voices have been heard.”
CHIP is a bipartisan success story that was designed and works for children. CHIP finances high-quality, affordable health care for more than 8 million children whose families earn too little to afford private insurance but too much to qualify for Medicaid. CHIP was last reauthorized in 2009 and extended in 2010. Funding for the program was set to expire in September absent Congressional action.
Like CHIP, home visiting programs have a long history of bipartisan support. The first federal funding was appropriated in 2008 under President George W. Bush, and Congress allocated additional funding to create MIECHV in 2010. MIECHV works to improve the health of children and families through voluntary home visiting services designed to help parents develop skills to care for their children. The United States spends billions annually to address a host of health, educational and social challenges facing at-risk families, which can be reduced or prevented at a fraction of the costs with voluntary evidence-based home visiting programs. MIECHV was previously authorized until the end of March, and as a result of today’s vote, will now be extended for two more years.
The AAP thanks House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Committees of jurisdiction: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sen. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.). In addition, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) deserves particular praise for his unwavering support for extending funding for CHIP.
“Now families can have peace of mind and state legislatures can plan ahead knowing that the fate of CHIP and home visiting programs is certain,” said Dr. Hassink. “The American Academy of Pediatrics thanks the champions for children in Congress who made this vote possible,” said Dr. Hassink. “Their principled negotiations, wise words and thoughtful actions have ensured that CHIP and MIECHV will continue to fund services for children and allow them to thrive.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 62,000 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.