Funding for children's insurance program set to end

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COLUMBIA - Funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is set to end on Sept. 30.

The program affects children of working families who cannot afford health insurance. More than 60,000 Missouri children will lose access to healthcare if the program ends.

CHIP was created by Congress in 1997 specifically for uninsured children in moderate to low-income working families who are not eligible for Medicaid.

The Missouri Children's Leadership Council sent letters urging Congress to act before the CHIP program loses its funding at the end of the month.

The letters were signed by more than 80 organizations representing children and families across Missouri.

Rep. Cora Faith Walker, D-Ferguson said the program is a necessity.

"It helps to make sure that children in working families and kids have access to health insurance. It's a great program, and it's always worked well," Walker said. "We've had bipartisan support. Kids are able to get to their healthcare providers and have access to preventative care. It's a really important program."

If the funding ends, fewer children receive the care they need, supporters say.

Alexandra James, a general pediatrician in Columbia, said a lot of parents use CHIP to cover their children's medical expenses. 

"I do see children that are covered by CHIP, it's not uncommon that children get insurance via that route. It's important because covered children equal healthy children," James said. "That gives them the access to the doctors and vaccines and preventative, as well as acute care that they need to stay healthy."