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WASHINGTON -- Legislation to ensure 11 million American children receive essential health care insurance won the support of Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) whose vote helped secure final passage late today of the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (H.R. 2).

CHIP was created 12 years ago to provide health insurance for children in working families whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but do not have access to employer-sponsored insurance or cannot afford to buy costly individual insurance policies. Today, by every measure, CHIP is a cost-effective and successful way to meet the basic health care needs of more American children.

“In this country, no child should go without health insurance, and no parent should have to choose between paying their child’s health care bill or paying their monthly mortgage,” Sen. Carper said. “CHIP is a positive investment in our nation’s future because children with health insurance are healthier and more active throughout their lives.”

Sen. Carper said CHIP reauthorization is critical during this economic downturn as states struggle to fund children’s health care programs. Studies show that some 700,000 children lose their health coverage every time the national unemployment rate goes up just one point.

“Right now state governments are facing cutbacks and state programs for children’s health are starting to run out of money,” Sen. Carper said. “CHIP puts our children first, and makes sure parents who work and pay taxes can also give their children proper health care. This is something we tried to accomplish in 2007. Twice, we sent President Bush a bipartisan bill that would have reauthorized this important program. I am happy that President Obama is expected to sign this bill into law soon.”

Since its enactment, CHIP has helped reduce the uninsured rate of lower-income children by nearly one-third. Currently, CHIP provides health insurance to almost 6.6 million American children and with the passage of the reauthorization, an additional 3.9 million children will receive coverage.

Delaware’s CHIP program, Delaware Healthy Children, offers health insurance coverage to children up to 19 years old in families with incomes at or below $42,400 for a family of four – 200 percent of the poverty level.

There are currently 5,571 children enrolled in Delaware Healthy Children, although more than 11,000 children were on the program at some point during the past year.