Now, as Congress scrambles to pass legislation to avoid a government shutdown, House Republicans are including funding for the program in a proposed spending bill.
The six-year extension of CHIP funding is important for Democrats, who have strenuously complained that federal funding for the program was allowed to lapse last fall.
President Donald Trump tweeted support for a long-term bill to fund the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, seemingly contradicting the strategy of Republican leadership to keep the larger government funded.
Nearly 9 million American kids and 370,000 expecting women rely on the Children's Health Insurance Program, more commonly known as CHIP, to cover such essential medical care as routine checkups and vaccinations.
"The Democrats in the Senate have been very consistent in clamoring for addressing the children's health care program", Mr. McConnell said on Wednesday.
"I like what I've seen the House has done on an extension of CHIP", Democratic Sen. However, some states could still run out of CHIP funds before March.
Federal funding for the health insurance program expired last September and despite some temporary money allocated by Congress, it will soon run out of federal matching dollars in Ohio. "To keep people up in the air, to have people going off insurance rolls, while we play games using it as a bargain chip, is just not responsible, and it's not moral". The Senate never took up the bill.
"I think this speaks to the dysfunction that we're seeing in Congress because CHIP is a popular program and a successful program", Alker said. Coverage for Ohio CHIP recipients is administered through Medicaid and is now providing health insurance to the population at a much lower federal reimbursement rate.
CHIP was created 20 years ago to provide health coverage for vulnerable children in families that were too poor to afford private coverage, but still didn't quality for Medicaid. A Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation public opinion poll in November found that 46% of Americans believe reauthorizing CHIP should be a top legislative priority.
Additional funding for the program has been stalled in Congress for months and Ohio will face millions in budget shortfalls if CHIP is not renewed, said Greg Moody, director of the Ohio Office of Health Transformation during a conference call with journalists. She believes CHIP will ultimately be reauthorized, though she chided lawmakers for being thoughtless in putting families through a stressful situation.