EUGENE, Ore. – Gov. Kate Brown visited Eugene Pediatric Associates on Wednesday and met with families to talk about funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Plan.
In September, all federal funding allocated to the CHIP program came to a halt -- leaving thousands of children across the country uncertain about their healthcare coverage.
In Oregon nearly 80,000 children and pregnant woman rely on the program. In Lane County, 6,500 children obtain healthcare services through the program, which means they could lose health coverage if CHIP is not funded.
While the federal funds for the program are expected to run out for Oregonians by the end of the month, Brown has taken action to extend the program through state funding. She said she has directed the state to allocate $27 million to continue funding the program through the end of April 2018.
During today’s visit Brown said she is asking Congress to renew federal funding for the program.
Dr. Pilar Bradshaw, a pediatrician and owner of Eugene Pediatric Associates, said 40 percent of her patients rely on the CHIP program for health services. Those services include medical, mental, behavioral and dental.
“You simply can’t fathom how damaging it will be financially for families if they can’t afford to get their kids to healthcare, to get vaccines,” Bradshaw said. “What if their child ends up in the hospital and they don’t have coverage?”
During her visit, Brown met with parents who rely on the program for their children's healthcare.
“What is happening now for families on the ground is this uncertainty is causing chaos,” Brown said. “It’s causing anxiety, and we all know that exacerbates already existing health conditions.”
Samantha Liesse is one of the parents who met with Brown. She is a mother of four and has two children on the autism spectrum.
“My twins won't have access to the mental health that they need access to,” Liesse said. “There's that feeling of not being able to take care of your children, it's a really awful feeling."
Brown said she expects Congress to renew funding for the program by the end of this year and to refund money to the state.