A week after opposing a resolution to fund the federal government through December, Rep. Randy Hultgren is pushing House leaders to include money for children's health insurance in a more enduring budget deal.
Hultgren sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan Wednesday expressing concern about 250,000 children in Illinois losing the health insurance coverage they get through the Children's Health Insurance Program. CHIP funding will expire Sept. 30.
"Without reauthorization of federal funding, state budget constraints will make insuring these children all but impossible," Hultgren wrote. "We should not weigh the health and coverage needs of Americans differently based on their ZIP code, especially when it comes to vulnerable children with few alternatives."
CHIP covers about 9 million children nationwide. The program provides insurance coverage for families in the coverage gap that exists for income levels too low to afford private insurance and too high to have Medicaid eligibility.
In his letter, Hultgren hailed CHIP as a "bipartisan program" that is "good for our kids and financially responsible for the federal government."
He didn't share those feelings about the budget deal struck between President Donald Trump and Democratic leaders last week. That deal provided emergency funding for hurricane relief, raised the debt ceiling and avoided a looming government shutdown.
Hultgren was one of 90 Republicans who opposed that bill. He said tying a debt-limit extension to helping hurricane victims and circumventing the regular appropriations process detracted "from what should be the overriding priority of providing disaster assistance to those who so badly need it right now and kicks the can down the road on the critical fiscal issues we need to confront. I take my responsibility very seriously to provide oversight on how precious taxpayer dollars are spent."
The Senate Finance Committee announced a bipartisan agreement to extend CHIP funding for five years earlier this week. The House has not yet announced a plan for CHIP.