EDINBURG – With a group of children from the Hidalgo County Head Start Program United States Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (D-15) explained how his vote to keep the government open came with a funding extension for Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
“Even with one of the most complicated political times in recent history we were able to continue funding for the Head Start program, almost $13 million,” Gonzalez said.
The six-year extension of CHIP funding was part of a broader continuing resolution to fund the federal government. The program expired Sept. 30, 2017 and was using previous year's funds to operate in the state.
Congress provided short-term funding for early 2018 but funds were expected to end in March.
In the State of Texas more than one million children were going to lose insurance. In the Rio Grande Valley more than 120,000 children rely on CHIP. In the congressman's district 60,000 children rely on the program.
“Fifty-seven percent of children in Hidalgo County rely on the CHIP program,” Gonzalez said. “So I took the most complicated vote in my congressional career so far and did it for the children.”
Gonzalez urged the fight for DREAMers continues but because the CHIP program was on its final legs financially he voted to open government.
Key provisions of the CHIP funding extension included federal funding for six years, continues the 23 percentage point enhanced federal match rate established by the Affordable Care Act and extends requirement for states to maintain coverage for children from 2019 to 2023. After Oct. 1, 2019 the requirement is limited to children with incomes at or below 300 percent FPL.