Senate President Stephen Sweeney
Deputy Speaker John Burzichelli
Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro

My Central Jersey — U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J. 6th District, state Senate President Steve Sweeney and state Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-19th District, visited PSE&G Children’s Specialized Hospital here on Tuesday to discuss the importance of extending funding for the for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The officials conducted a roundtable discussion with hospital staff and families currently benefiting from CHIP to highlight the critical need to continue funding this essential program.

Pallone was one of the original authors of the 1997 CHIP program, which has traditionally garnered strong bipartisan support at the federal and state levels, and has grown to provide health coverage to more than eight million pregnant women and children, including over 185,000 in New Jersey. New Jersey Family Care is also funded through CHIP and serves over 800,000 children throughout the state. If Congress does not act, however, funding for the program is set to expire in September 2015.

“CHIP is responsible for providing millions of children across the United States with access to the high-quality and affordable healthcare that they need in order to grow up to be healthy adults,” Pallone said. “But without Congressional action, funding for CHIP will expire next fall, which will jeopardize the health coverage of millions of children whose families cannot afford to purchase coverage for them on their own. Congress must act now to continue funding for this essential program, so that no child loses coverage.”

“No child should be denied the ability to see a doctor or get the medical care they need and no pregnant woman should go without health care,” Sweeney said. “The CHIP program has been one of the most important and successful health care services in the country and in New Jersey. In caring for low-income families. Federal funding should be renewed and state support should be maintained.”

“Pregnant women now enrolled in CHIP could lose coverage and prenatal care,” Vitale said. “They are from low-income families and they don’t qualify for Medicaid so they could be left without health care at a time when they need it most. When children have health insurance, they are sick less frequently and for a shorter duration and are more likely to attend and perform well in school.”

Last week, Pallone introduced legislation, supported by every Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which would extend funding for CHIP for four years, through 2019, to protect coverage for millions of children and families, and strengthen the program by providing states with secure funding and new tools to improve enrollment and retention.

The bill, the CHIP Extension and Improvement Act of 2015, makes a number of program improvements to reduce bureaucracy and increase state flexibility. The legislation maintains the 23 percent “bump” increasing states’ matching rates and the maintenance-of-effort provision so that states do not change Medicaid and CHIP eligibility standards. Among other improvements, the legislation provides states with a permanent option to use “Express Lane Eligibility,” which reduces administrative burdens for both states and beneficiaries.

A Senate companion bill was also introduced last week by Senators Sherrod Brown, D-OH, Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, Ron Wyden, D-OR, and Bob Casey, D-PA, and was supported by every Democrat in the Senate. The bill, entitled the Protecting & Retaining Our Children’s Health Insurance Program Act of 2015 (PRO-CHIP), would also extend CHIP funding through 2019.

District Offices

Gloucester County

Kingsway Commons
935 Kings Highway, Suite 400
West Deptford, NJ 08086
Phone: (856) 251-9801
Fax: (856) 251-9752

Salem/Cumberland Counties

The Finlaw Building
199 East Broadway, Suite G
Salem, NJ 08079
Phone: (856) 339-0808 or
             (856) 455-1011
Fax: (856) 339-9626