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Sen. Maria Cantwell held a press conference at Harborview on Sunday, Jan. 28, to celebrate the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which she called a lifeline for states and communities to provide healthcare for low-income, working families.

Cantwell was joined by Paul Hayes, R.N., Harborview’s executive director; Dr Brian Johnston, chief of pediatrics at Harborview; Dr. Shaquita Bell, Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic pediatrician; Jazmin Williams, CHIP parent; and Bob Marsalli, CEO for Washington Association of Community & Migrant Health Centers.

On Jan. 22, Congress passed and the President signed into law a six-year extension of CHIP, which provides health coverage to about 9 million children nationwide and 60,000 children in Washington state.  These include many of the 7,000 young patients that receive care each year at Harborview’s primary care and pediatric clinics.

Since CHIP’s enactment, the nationwide uninsured rate for children has dropped from 15 to 5 percent. Washington has one of the lowest uninsured rates for children, Cantwell noted, at 3 percent. After federal CHIP funding ended on Oct. 1, 2017, state CHIP programs, including Washington’s, used  short-term funds to keep their programs operational, but they were at risk of closing.

Now that CHIP has been renewed, Cantwell pointed out that  other  healthcare programs await urgent Congressional action. First on her list is renewed funding for Community Health Centers, which provide lost-cost healthcare to people who cannot afford health plans but do not qualify for coverage under Medicaid or CHIP.

View the press conference on Cantwell’s Facebook page.