PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Despite Congress failing to renew funding for the program that provides health coverage to 80,000 Oregon children, the state will continue to fund the program using leftover funds to cover through the end of the year.
Governor Kate Brown sent a letter to the Oregon Health Authority to continue coverage of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for kids and pregnant women who rely on the services.
OHA told the governor that Oregon children could lose their benefits at the end of the year because of the inaction of Congress. Brown asked OHA officials to work with partners to try and extend coverage through the end of April 2018, even if that creates a shortfall in the state’s budget.
Now, Brown and Rep. Earl Blumenauer are urging the US Senate to approve the funding measure. The House passed a measure earlier this month.
At a Monday afternoon event at OHSU, Brown and Blumenauer talked passionately about the program. Blumenauer, in fact, said most members of Congress support CHIP and given the chance it would pass easily.
Brown said, though, that if Congress doesn’t do its job, the Oregon legislature will be back in session in February “and we’ll have a conversation about it then.”
Nancy Minoui is one of the mothers whose daughter benefits from the CHIP program. Minoui said her daughter is not out of the woods and heart surgery to repair a hole in her heart is still on the table. But Minoui relies on CHIP funding to help pay the medical bills for her baby.
The CHIP program covers kids from low- and middle-income families whose parents make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but may not have enough money to buy marketplace coverage. At this time, officials said, about 120,000 Oregon children and 1700 pregnant women use the federally-funded program.