Congressional spending battle ensnares CHIP funding

Posted: Updated:
WOODBURY -

Funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, has become a sticking point in congressional spending negotiations as the two major parties come close to a potential government shutdown.

For the Sotelo family of Baldwin, cuts to the program could cost brothers Matthew and Edward. They are both enrolled in Child Health Plus, which receives its funding from CHIP. 

CHIP receives funds largely from the federal government and provides health care coverage for 300,000 children in New York, and 60,000 of them live on Long Island, according to state officials. 

But the CHIP program has become a major poker piece in the ongoing budget talks in Washington. Republicans want to include a six-year extension for funding the program as part of a negotiation on a short-term spending bill that would avert a government shutdown. 

Without an extension in place, families that rely on CHIP to provide health coverage for their kids are on edge.

Ariel Sotelo says Congress shouldn't be using CHIP funding as a bargaining chip in budget talks. It's just too important for families like hers, she says.

"Congressmen, Congress people, they need to think about family first," she says. "The family is the pillar of society. They need to think about the welfare of the family."

The House passed a largely partisan spending bill Thursday that includes the CHIP extension, but it's unclear if that version will pass in the Senate, where it will require support from Democrats as well.

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