BOARDMAN, Ohio (WYTV) – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said federal funding is needed to help keep health insurance for more than 6,000 Valley children.
Brown spoke at Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley Monday morning about the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which is set to expire in September. In February, Brown introduced legislation called Protecting and Retaining Our Children’s Health Insurance Program Act of 2015 (PRO-CHIP) that would extend funding for CHIP through 2019.
The health care coverage of 130,000 Ohioans and more than 10 million children and pregnant women nationwide could be in jeopardy if the funding is allowed to expire. In addition, Ohio could lose up to an estimated $146 million in federal funds in 2016 alone if Congress allows CHIP’s funding to expire.
“We know that health care means children do better in school. They are less likely to miss school. They feel better when they are in the classroom. They are more likely to succeed. They are more likely to go on to school, so this is not just the right thing to do. It is the smart thing to do for these kids,” Brown said.
He was joined at the podium by Dr. Rob McGregor, Chief Medical Officer at Akron Children’s Hospital, as well as two mothers whose children are enrolled in CHIP.
Jessica Miller said she relies on CHIP to help pay for her 4-year-old son Peyton’s medical expenses. At seven weeks old, he was taken to the hospital by helicopter because he had laryngomalacia and went into respiratory distress.
“About $15,000 just for the Lifeflight and an ambulance bill of $800,” Miller said.
She said CHIP allows Peyton to get the daily care he needs, including medicine and doctor’s visits. In addition, he was recently diagnosed with Type I diabetes.
Erika Flaherty’s son, Chase, was born with a stage 4 brain bleed and a chronic lung disease because he was premature. He sees a lung specialist to help control his asthma.
“When he was first born, he would come home and every two months he would end up in the hospital and stay a week because he would end up having pneumonia,” Flaherty said.
Brown hopes Congress passes his legislation within the next two weeks.