Buchanan, Finkenauer Introduce Bill to Protect Health Care for Kids
WASHINGTON – Reps. Vern Buchanan and Abby Finkenauer (D-IA) introduced legislation Monday to permanently reauthorize the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which serves 379,000 children in Florida.
Under current law, the CHIP program needs to be reauthorized every few years, which places its funding in jeopardy and makes it a bargaining chip in legislative negotiations.
The Buchanan-Finkenauer bill would permanently extend funding for CHIP to ensure eligible kids will continue to receive the health care they need and ensures the program doesn’t lapse in the future.
“This important program provides peace of mind to families that if their children get sick they will get the medical attention they need,” said Buchanan. “Nearly 380,000 children in Florida depend on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). That’s why I’m pleased to introduce this legislation with Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer permanently reauthorizing this vital program.’’
Buchanan is a longtime supporter of the CHIP program. In 2018, he opposed President Trump’s proposal to rescind more than $7 billion in funding for the program. He also was one of 44 Republicans in 2007 to vote to override then-President George W. Bush’s veto of a bill extending the program.
Buchanan noted that 9.6 million children are enrolled nationwide in CHIP, including nearly 380,000 children in Florida. In Sarasota County, 3,600 children are enrolled in the program, 3,700 in Manatee County and 15,100 in Hillsborough County.
“Too many kids’ futures are on the line if CHIP funding expires even temporarily. This bill will cut out uncertainty and help protect the health and well-being of our next generation,” said Finkenauer. Their bill is called the Comprehensive Access to Robust Insurance Now Guaranteed (CARING) for Kids Act.
In Florida, CHIP services include routine check-ups, laboratory and x-ray services, emergency room visits, immunizations, and dental and vision services.
“Investing in affordable health care coverage for our nation’s children saves money in the long run - and it’s the right thing to do,” Buchanan said.
Income eligibility levels for CHIP vary among states, though most set thresholds at or below 200 percent of the poverty level — about $49,000 for a family of four. Unlike Medicaid, CHIP is usually not free to participants. Florida families pay an average premium of about $200 a year.