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Arizona Reps Urge Action as Children’s Health Insurance Program Set to Expire

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The federal Children’s Health Insurance Program is set to expire at the end of the month. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, a bipartisan group of Arizona’s congressional representatives are pushing for its immediate reauthorization. 

The CHIP program provides funds for states to insure low-to-middle income children who aren’t eligible for Medicaid. In Arizona, it pays for KidsCare, which covers about 22,000 children.

Senate legislation has been introduced to reauthorize CHIP, but no House bill yet exists and lawmakers haven’t scheduled debate or committee meetings. Democrat Tom O’Halleran worries that without reauthorization, the benefits of nearly 9 million children nationwide could be affected.

"It’s been, historically, a program that’s been universally accepted and it’s so critical to part of our population that is at risk. I don’t see where any American is going to be upset that we’re trying to keep children healthy," O'Halleran says.

O’Halleran says despite broad, bipartisan support for CHIP in Congress, the current debate over the Affordable Care Act is drawing attention away from it. He and Republican Martha McSally, among others, recently sent a letter to congressional leaders calling for action to save the program.

Funding for the $700 million CHIP program expires Sept. 30.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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