Lawmakers celebrate renewed child insurance funds

Senator Jack Reed (left) Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza (center) and Elizabeth Burke Bryant wait to speak on the renewal of CHIP funding
Senator Jack Reed (left) Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza (center) and Elizabeth Burke Bryant wait to speak on the renewal of CHIP funding

By Sam Wroblewski 630wpro.com

Rhode Island is kicking off a new campaign to enroll more kids from low-income families into state health insurance following congress’s vote to renew fund to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The $28.19 million will be used to help RIte Care providence free, to low cost children’s health insurance to qualifying families. Elizabeth Burke Bryant, Executive Director of the child advocacy organization Kids Count, said the impact of state health care programs has been noticeable.

“We have decreased rates of emergency hospital admissions, low rates of preventable hospitalizations, improved access to primary care, [and] fewer pregnant women who smoke,” said Burke Bryant.

The federal funds were passed via a bipartisan effort, with Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed strongly advocating for its renewal. Reed helped pass the original CHIP bill in 1997, an effort that was spearheaded by late-Senator John Chafee.

“We were able to extend the program for two years,” said Chafee “We’d like to see it longer, and we’re going to start fighting right away to make sure it stays in place for a long, long time.”

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza said he is pleased with the bipartisan vote, as 40,000 of the city’s residents are assisted by RIte Care programs.

“Of those 40,000, 28,000 of them [are] children and teens,” said Elorza.

Elorza said that although 70 percent of the city’s children are covered by state health insurance, up to 2,000 still remain uninsured.

“There are many busy parents who may not realize that they’re children are in fact eligible for […] health insurance.”

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