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Letter to the House on the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (HR 2)

March 25, 2015

Dear Representative: 

On behalf of the three million members of the National Education Association (NEA) and the students they serve, we write to offer our views on the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 2), introduced by Representative Michael Burgess (R-TX), which is scheduled for a vote tomorrow. 

We strongly applaud the inclusion of a two year extension of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act in H.R. 2. This act provides critical funding for over 4,400 schools in 770 rural counties located near national forests across the United States. Without these funds, students and communities would be severely impacted by laying-off teachers and education support professionals, eliminating extracurricular programs, and postponing desperately needed building repairs. The extension of this critical funding will ensure that targeted resources are available to provide students the opportunities they deserve. We are deeply grateful for the leadership shown on this critical issue and the commitment to ensuring that we meet our historic commitment to serving communities in federal forest counties. 

However, we must also express our concern for children in another area of this proposal.  The bill’s two year extension of the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) does not go far enough to stabilize and secure funding for the millions of children who rely on CHIP coverage for their health care needs.  We urge Congress to include at least a four year extension of these vital benefits. For nearly two decades, CHIP has been an essential source of coverage for working families, ensuring access to high-quality, affordable, pediatric-appropriate health care for children whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to purchase private health insurance. CHIP has reduced the number of uninsured children by more than 50 percent while improving care and access for children and pregnant women. If Congress fails to act now, 10.2 million children will be at risk of having their health coverage disrupted, or potentially lose coverage and have no other option available. It is these very children who deserve the certainty that more than a two year extension will provide.  We urge Congress to continue to work together to put the needs of children first. 

We appreciate your consideration of our views on the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 2).  

Sincerely,  

 

Mary Kusler
Director, Government Relations