MMS Statement Regarding Federal Funding of Health Programs

Henry L. Dorkin, MD, FAAP, President of the Massachusetts Medical Society, released the following statement:

“Reliable funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and our country’s community health centers helps states like Massachusetts ensure that more children and families are able to access quality medical care. Twenty years ago, the MMS was proud to support the first CHIP legislation, and we continue to do so. Now, in Massachusetts, children’s health coverage is at record levels, with less than one percent of children from qualifying families living without health insurance.

“That’s why it’s shocking and inexcusable that Congress last week allowed the CHIP program to expire without passing a reauthorization bill. More than 180,000 children in Massachusetts are now at risk of losing their health coverage. Their families – working families that don’t qualify for Medicaid but who need some help with health care costs – must now live with the fear of losing the coverage on which they rely.

“Among these patients are children who live with chronic conditions that require continuous care in order for the children to stay healthy. Uncontrolled chronic conditions not only take children out of school and away from their communities, but can also lead to worsened outcomes and higher long-term costs of care.

“As a pediatrician specializing in respiratory disorders, I have dedicated my life to helping children grow into adulthood. Many of my patients would not have been able to do so without access to reliable health coverage. We cannot play fast and loose with the health of our children. Congress must take immediate steps to restore this essential, life-saving program – and to pass a long-term reauthorization.

“At the same time, Congress has the opportunity to protect access to health care for medically underserved by ensuring funding of community health centers (CHCs). CHCs are facing devastating budget cuts, which could lead to the closure of thousands of health center sites nationwide. Here in Massachusetts, community health centers serve nearly one million patients each year.

“By providing level discretionary funding and by extending the Health Centers Fund, Congress will maintain needed stability at health centers – essential safety nets that meet the needs of communities across the Commonwealth.

“By missing the September 30th deadline, Congress has inadvertently destabilized two important medical programs in the United States. We urge our elected officials to quickly right this wrong.”

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