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Urgency is at the core of children's health-care delivery.

As president and CEO of Arkansas Children's Hospital, I am inspired daily by how urgently our team responds to life-threatening injuries; by how our lab techs swiftly make discoveries, allowing nurses and doctors to intervene with little time to spare; by how our pharmacists immediately create compounds that cure.

I ask that Congress act with similar urgency to protect our nation's children. We are at a critical juncture in stabilizing our health-care system.

A central component of that system for children is the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Many of our nation's children rely on this safety-net initiative, yet Congress has allowed it to expire.

This inaction could soon impact families you know, parents who work alongside you, sit next to you in the pews on Sunday, and attend the same PTA meetings on busy weeknights.

Many of their children are alive today because they had health insurance through ARKids First, which has been helping children in Arkansas for more than 20 years. ARKids is funded by CHIP and Medicaid. CHIP provides funding to cover more than 47,000 Arkansas children.

Who are CHIP families? Parents who make a bit too much to qualify for Medicaid coverage, but not enough to afford private health insurance. To qualify, a family of four must earn less than $51,900 a year and be responsible for a co-pay.

They're everyday Arkansans, and CHIP helps them change the story for their children.

Arkansas led the way in offering insurance to working families with ARKids even before CHIP was mandated. This state set the bar for what it means to champion children.

It's time for Congress to act with similar urgency on behalf of Arkansas kids. Congress still has time to reauthorize CHIP before its Thanksgiving break. Legislation enacting a long-term extension of CHIP has passed out of committees in both chambers. Congress has a special chance to show they are champions for children and end the uncertainty for state governments and millions of children and families across the country.

Research shows healthy children grow up to become healthy adults. CHIP helps us ensure Arkansas children have the opportunity to live, learn and play while reaching their full health potential.

A five-year extension of CHIP will give the program and those who depend on it some stability. The plan is supported by the National Governors Association, the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, and our committed team of champions at Arkansas Children's Hospital.

Together, we are relentlessly focused on making children better today and healthier tomorrow. But to continue that, we have to act quickly.

Join us as champions for children. Please contact your congressmen and let them know you believe we must put children first by reauthorizing CHIP immediately.

Life moves too fast to let our families and children down.


Marcy Doderer is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, and is president and CEO of Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock.

Editorial on 10/23/2017

Print Headline: Put children first

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  • hah406
    October 23, 2017 at 9:59 a.m.

    Representative Hill, Senators Boozman and Cotton, do you see this? Do you hear this? Get to work and actually pass this. It has bipartisan support, you just need to do it.