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Congress takes step to re-authorize child health insurance program

November 7, 2017
In The News

A week after visiting a Hillsboro health clinic, U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici celebrated what she said was a mixed bag of funding for school-based health centers in Oregon.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program last week, something the Beaverton democrat listed as among her top priorities during a visit to a clinic at Hillsboro's Century High School in late October. The center was threatened with closure after Congress allowed the CHIP program to expire in September in the wake of several battles on health care.

Without a new bill, funding for Oregon's CHIP program would run dry in the spring. Officials at Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, which operates the Century High School health clinic and five otherschool-based health centers in Washington and Yamhill counties, said failing to reauthorize CHIP funding would force school-based clinics to shrink in hours or services.

The bill's renewal was bittersweet for Bonamici, who mourned cuts to other areas, including the Prevention and Public Health Fund in a statement on Nov. 3.

"I'm disappointed that this hasn't been a more bipartisan process in the House of Representatives," she stated. "Rather than work toward a compromise that has a chance of becoming law, the Majority in the House has instead pushed this through by cutting one important public health program to fund another."

The bill, which has moved on to the U.S. Senate, would cut around $25 million in funding for Oregon health care issues over the next five years, according to Bonamici's statement.

A Bonamici spokesperson, Maggie Rousseau, said she expects CHIP funding will be included in an end-of-year funding package by the senate.