Funding to continue health coverage for 10,000 Valley children a - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Funding to continue health coverage for 10,000 Valley children approved

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -

After more than three months, the United States Senate and House have approved a measure to fund medical insurance coverage for nearly a quarter of a million children in Ohio. 

The Children's Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, provides medical coverage to nearly 10,000 children in Mahoning, Trumbull, and Columbiana Counties alone. 

However, for the past 114 days, the program has been in limbo. 

"For more than 100 days, these moms and dads have gone without knowing if their kids would be able to go to the doctor when they get sick or get their annual checkup. Tonight, we finally provided peace of mind to thousands of Ohio parents," said Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown.

"There are more than 10,000 kids in the Mahoning Valley who get insurance through the CHIP program, and we have now ensured that they will get that insurance for the next six years," said Sen. Brown. "These are daughters and sons of parents who work full-time jobs, typically between eight to twelve dollars an hour, but they don't have insurance." 

"You know what happens when a child ends up in the emergency room with an ear infection," said Brown. "First, their parents don't take them right away, because they hope it will go away. Then they go in too late, they can't afford a doctor, they go in too late, it costs more money to take care of that child with potential long-term hearing loss."

CHIP, which was created in 1991, was funded by the Affordable Care Act through 2019, however, funding ran out in September 2017. 

The program, according to Senator Sherrod Brown says that the program is fundamental to providing health care to children whose parents have low-wage jobs and are working, but their employers don't provide medical coverage. The program covers the gap between parents who make too much money for Medicaid but don't have insurance through their provider. 

In Trumbull County, nearly 4,000 children were enrolled in CHIP as of October 2017; more than 3,500 Mahoning County Children received coverage and more than 2,000 in Columbiana County. 

In Ohio, the CHIP Program operates as Healthy Start, which not only provides for medical insurance but also oversees programs such as those designed to benefit child nutrition in school, lead awareness, and several others. 

Brown, who is on the Senate Finance Committee, sponsored legislation to fund the program for several years. Once that bill was approved by the finance committee, Senator Brown's office says that despite repeated attempts, Senate leadership refused to take a vote on the matter. 

"You've got a lot of members of Congress who get insurance provided for them by taxpayers who don't seem to think it's that important to help children especially get insurance. And I hope those days are over," said Brown. 

However, over the weekend, Brown took to the Senate floor, asking for an immediate vote. Then late Monday night the House approved the matching bill and sent it to the President's desk for his signature. 

Brown says that with the passing of the legislation Monday night, the CHIP program will be funded for the next six years. 

"Now we must continue fighting to fund community health centers and rural hospitals to ensure Ohio kids not only have insurance, but also a place to go when they are sick."  

Senator Sherrod Brown's full interview can be seen above. 

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