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Letter Regarding CHIP Funding

January 21, 2018

The following letter was sent to Vermont's Congressional Delegation on January 19, 2018 regarding the current political situation regarding CHIP funding.

Honorable Patrick Leahy, Honorable Bernard Sanders, Honorable Peter Welch

Dear Vermont Delegation, 

Vermont’s hospital community understands well the difficult political environment for Congress right now. Despite this set of circumstances, our hospitals are hopeful that compassionate policy for immigrants and health care for children will be at the forefront throughout the federal budget process. Both issues represent social justice matters with major implications for our nation’s health and humanity.

As you know, the 20+ year old Children’s Health Insurance Program ensures that kids in low-income families have access to the care and comfort they need. We appreciate your ongoing support for this critical program, which covers tens of thousands of Vermont families. Fully funding CHIP is of vital importance, as is funding for community health centers and federal programs—including Medicare- dependent hospital status (MDH) and low-volume payment adjustments—that enable Vermont providers to serve their communities.

Hospitals are leading the way in Vermont to create a system focused on keeping people healthy and better managing chronic conditions. This is difficult work that requires significant investments of financial capital and culture change. When federal programs are threatened, so is our collective ability to invest in a stronger system that meets the needs of our communities state-wide.

Without CHIP reauthorization and the Medicare extenders, we will no doubt see an increase in uncompensated care. Our hospitals are proud to welcome anyone and everyone in need. As more people become uninsured or under-insured because of ACA deterioration—and threats to CHIP and programs like MDH and the 340B drug discount program—Vermont hospitals will bear the costs of treating those people while still making investments in community health and value-based care.

Eventually it becomes impossible to do all of those things at once.

We are, as always, grateful for your advocacy for a strong health care safety net and fair payment for providers. And we appreciate your awareness of the bold efforts Vermont hospitals are taking to create the best possible patient experience, improve population health outcomes and reduce cost. Those efforts fare much better when federal coverage is maintained or enhanced, not threatened or used as political currency.

If there is any way we can be helpful, please let us know. Thank you for listening and fighting so hard for Vermonters and the health care providers that serve them.

Sincerely,

Jeff Tieman President & CEO