By John Ingold
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper rallied a bipartisan band of governors again on Tuesday in a letter to Congress urging the renewal of a children's health insurance program for low-income families.
"We believe covering children and pregnant women without disruption is one thing we can all agree on," the governors wrote in the letter.
The bipartisan letter of concern has become something of a Hickenlooper trademark this year, as Congress squabbles over reforms to health insurance programs. Always joined by Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Hickenlooper this year has written Congress at least three other times, opposing efforts to repeal or roll back Affordable Care Act protections.
The latest letter asks Congress to reauthorize a separate program, the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. The program provides health insurance to children and pregnant women from low-income families that make just enough to be above the cut-off for Medicaid. Nationally, CHIP covers about 9 million kids and their families. In Colorado, where the program is called the Children's Health Plan Plus, more than 75,000 kids and pregnant women are covered.
Congress allowed funding for CHIP to expire earlier this year, though states have been keeping it alive with residual funds. Colorado will soon run out of money, though, and plans to end the program on Jan 31. unless Congress acts.
The letter sent Tuesday is signed by 12 governors -- six Democrats, five Republicans and one independent. It is addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
"Since its creation, CHIP has enjoyed strong bipartisan support," the letter concludes. "We encourage you to work across the aisle to find common ground that will allow this important program to continue and give the families who rely on CHIP the peace of mind of knowing that their children will be able to get the health care they need in the new year."
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