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Udall Urges Bipartisan Action To Fund CHIP And Health Programs Critical To New Mexico

on October 26, 2017 - 9:53am
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Wednesday, in a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall urged Republicans to work with Democrats to fund critical health programs that benefit thousands of N.M. children, low-income families, and Native Americans.
Udall also voiced his support for bipartisan efforts in the Senate to stabilize the individual health insurance markets and protect against President Trump's efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 
Last month, while Republicans were trying pass their fourth attempt to repeal Obamacare, they failed to act and let the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Community Health Centers program, and the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program expire, and put off long term funding for the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI). 
Failing to fund CHIP has put comprehensive health coverage for almost 9 million children — including over 11,000 kids in New Mexico — at risk. Udall highlighted a family from Anthony, N.M., that was able to afford life-saving cancer treatment for their son, Colton, thanks to their health coverage under CHIP. 
"Without CHIP, Colton’s family would have had to pay hundreds of dollars a month for his treatment – the cost of a month’s rent. Families should not have to choose between life-saving care for their children and a roof over their heads," Udall said. "States are looking at contingency plans [for CHIP funding]. New Mexico has reserves – but only until next spring. Some states will be forced to cover all of the cost in just a few months. And others are preparing to send notices to families that their coverage will end. No parent -- who is already in crisis because of a sick child -- should have to go through that."
Udall also discussed the importance of community health centers in New Mexico, which provide essential care to rural communities and deliver comprehensive health care services to some of our nation’s most vulnerable individuals. Community health centers will suffer a 70 percent cut if Congress fails to reauthorize the funding. Udall recently visited a clinic in Ft. Sumner, N.M., the De Baca Family Practice Clinic, which would be forced to severely limit care to its over 3,000 patients if it does not receive full funding.
"Both CHIP and Community Health Centers provide preventive care to underserved communities throughout New Mexico. They are supplementing our health care system to ensure we don't let any families fall through the cracks," Udall said.
Udall also reiterated the need to act on long term funding for SDPI which provides grants for diabetes prevention and management programming for Indian Country. "The disproportionate impact on Native Americans is a public health problem we cannot ignore. This program is making real progress," Udall added. "Congress must act to allow this successful program to reach its full potential. We cannot allow diabetes to become a death sentence in Indian Country once again."
"These programs have years – sometimes decades – of proven success," Udall said. "The American people want Congress to work together – and come up with bipartisan solutions. Most of these programs were created through bipartisan cooperation. Let’s get back to that spirit – and work together for the American people again."