Congress is poised to offer temporary funding to a health insurance program for low-income children through the early months of next year. Mississippi advocates and officials want more. MPB's Ashley Norwood reports.
The bill offers $2.85 billion dollars to temporarily fund the Children's Health Insurance Program into March. It also gives $550 million dollars to community health centers and extends other public health programs. Children's advocates and Mississippi officials welcome the offer but are seriously urging Congress to consider long-term funding through the next five years.
Mississippi Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson says more than 79,000 children in Mississippi can't do without CHIP.
"I would hope that other states who are equal beneficiaries of this program will see it like I do and not use it somehow like a political football. Go ahead and do it because it's the right thing to do," said Thompson.
Mississippi's Division of Medicaid says it has enough money to keep the insurance program running until the end of April.
Oleta Fitzgerald is with the non-profit Children's Defense Fund. She says many families are on edge.
"Just imagine a child that does not have access to the services that they need both the doctor and the medicines. If you've ever seen a child struggling to breathe, it would mean a lot to that child if we do not have the Children's Health Insurance Program," said Fitzgerald.
Mississippi Republican Senator Roger Wicker says in a statement, he supports a long-term agreement to reauthorize and fund the children's health insurance program. He says he wants to avoid unnecessary funding shortfalls likely to come in the future.