Lehigh Valley

Long-term funding for children's health insurance in limbo

11,000 kids here in the Lehigh Valley are covered by the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and nearly 180,000 are covered state wide.

Federal funding for CHIP expired in September and now Congress has to act by Friday to pass the $3 billion funding plan or else 2 million kids across the country will lose coverage.

"They're the families that are right on the cliff if you will," said Melissa Miranda.

Miranda, of Neighborhood Health Center of the Lehigh Valley, says what keeps many families from falling off the financial cliff is the Children's Health Insurance Program.

"It provides access to preventative care, sick care, medication, dental, vision," she said. "Those families then would be faced with self-paid kind of bills."

Lehigh Valley Republican Congressman Charlie Dent said the idea is to keep CHIP funded through March 31.

"This is really just a patch," he said. "There will be a broader authorization of CHIP in the new year."

Dent said the money will come from a variety of offsets including the public health and prevention fund.

The temporary funds would be approved by a continuing resolution bill and the Senate needs to vote on that too.

Senator Pat Toomey's office said the CHIP funds will be reauthorized before there is any stop in coverage.

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