Dear SAHM members,

Nearly two months have passed since Congress allowed funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to expire. It’s critical to urge Congress to extend CHIP funding for five years now.

Without additional CHIP funds, states are being forced to make difficult choices about the future of their CHIP programs. States will run out of money in the next several months (some as early as the end of December), and they will have to notify families that their CHIP coverage will end soon.

It should not take children and adolescents losing their health insurance for Congress to act.

Please join us this Thursday, November 30, for a CHIP Day of Action.

Adolescents and their families have faced ongoing uncertainty about whether or not they will be able to access the health care they rely on. It doesn't have to be this way, and Congress must act now.

How you can prepare for this week’s Day of Action on Nov. 30:

·         Review the talking points below and your state’s Children’s Health Coverage Fact Sheets to find state-specific information about CHIP.

·         Encourage your colleagues to mark their calendars and join you. We need every child health advocate speaking out on Nov. 30 to make our message as strong as possible.
 
Call your members of Congress on Nov. 30. To find out who your legislators are, go to www.house.gov and www.senate.gov and click on the corresponding boxes to “find your representative” or “find your senator.” D.C. office phone information should follow. Use the talking points below to urge your federal legislators to extend CHIP.

·         Hello. I am an adolescent health provider from {your state}. I am calling today to urge {Senator's/Representative’s name} to pass legislation that would extend current funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for five years and maintain the bipartisan history of the program.

·         CHIP funding expired about two months ago. It should not take children and adolescents losing their health insurance for Congress to act.

·         Real children and adolescents are facing the implications and the ongoing uncertainty about whether or not they will be able to access the health care they rely on.

·         Because CHIP funding has not been extended, states have been forced to make difficult choices as they question the future of their CHIP programs. Actions range from slashing enrollment and reducing benefits to imposing higher costs for families, to potentially eliminating CHIP altogether. Already several states are using funds meant to operate the program to begin the process of shutting it down.

·         It doesn't have to be this way. CHIP is a bipartisan success story. The program was created in 1997 and has been championed by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle since its very beginning.

·         Nearly 9 million children and adolescents across the country are enrolled in the program. CHIP stands on the shoulders of Medicaid to cover children in working families who are not eligible for Medicaid and lack access to affordable private coverage.

·         The program is designed around what children and adolescents need. It offers benefits that are age-appropriate, including dental coverage and mental health and substance abuse services, which may not be covered by a family's employer-sponsored insurance.

·         CHIP plans include networks of pediatricians, pediatric medical and surgical subspecialists, and children's hospitals, which are especially critical for children and adolescents with special health care needs.

·         Please take immediate action to extend current CHIP funding for five years. We cannot leave our adolescents and their families to face an uncertain future any longer.
·         Thank you for all you do for adolescents.

Thank you for your commitment to advancing adolescent health.
 
Krishna Upadhya, MD, MPH
SAHM Advocacy Chair
 
Tamera Coyne-Beasley, MD, MPH, FAAP, FSAHM
SAHM President
 

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