Press Release
From the Office of State Senator Leticia Van de Putte

For Immediate Release
November 13, 2006
Tiffany Champion, Office of Senator Van de Putte, (210) 733-6604
Kristin Merani, Office of Representative Turner, (512) 463-0554

Senator Van de Putte and Representative Turner File Legislation to Restore CHIP To Its Original Design

AUSTIN, TX -- On Monday, November 13, the first day of pre-filing for the 80th Legislative Session, State Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) along with State Representative Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) filed legislation, Senate Bill 81 and House Bill 109, which will reinstate a comprehensive Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) package appropriate for Texas children by restoring CHIP to its original design; thereby eliminating the barriers that families have encountered when applying or renewing their applications for coverage.

Only two years after Texas initiated the CHIP Program, enrollment of children in the program was at its highest, 529,211. However, after the 2003 Legislative Session and the substantial cuts to healthcare, the drop in children enrolled in CHIP from September 2003 until October 2006 decreased approximately 40 percent. Texas lost over $832 million dollars in federal matching funds; it is estimated that a pending $20 million will probably be lost for fiscal year 2006.

"It is neither prudent nor efficient as a state to leave federal dollars that we can draw down on the table for other states to use. CHIP must be returned to its original design, including 12 months of continuous eligibility and coverage instead of 6 months," stated Senator Van de Putte.

"Families applying or renewing their applications for CHIP are experiencing an obstacle course that ends with children receiving no service. Families are frustrated, children are getting sick with no care, and county hospitals are facing the daunting future of treating children whose visits to the emergency room could have been prevented by CHIP," stated Representative Turner.

"We must recommit to ensuring that all of our children have the opportunity to live healthy lives. CHIP is merely one program that allows for this, our children deserve no less," stated Senator Van de Putte and Representative Turner.