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Lawmakers on House Health Committee call for continued healthcare coverage for kids

Delaware Public Media

State Representatives on the House Health and Human Development Committee are calling on Congress to continue funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Nearly 10,000 kids in Delaware have the government-funded health coverage.

Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, insure millions of low-income kids. CHIP was started in 1997 and cover youth whose parents make more than Medicaid allows.

The programs are run by the states, but funded by both states and the federal government.

Health Committee Vice-Chair Debra Heffernan said it's very important funding for the program continues through 2018.

"You know, without this program, then their families, their parents are going to have to pick between buying groceries, paying rent or taking care of their children's health care," she said. "That's really not a good position that families should be put in."

President Donald Trump has called for a 20 percent reduction in CHIP funding for next year, cutting about $3.4 billion.

Republican Rep. Ruth Briggs Kings said the cuts could cost the federal government and states more in the long run if kids’ access to preventive health services are limited.

“Sometimes, I think you have to other places to make some of those cuts or make some of those savings," she said. "Or look at them in a different manner than just throw out an idea and say ‘We’re going to cut all of this out.’ And not realize how costly that may be in other areas.”

Briggs King said state lawmakers could decide to make up the difference. But the state itself is facing financial pressure from rising Medicaid costs.

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