Gov. Larry Hogan urged congressional leaders Tuesday to reinstate by the end of the year a federal program that provides health insurance for children.
“We should all be able to agree that needy kids should never become a political football,” Hogan wrote in a letter to leaders of both parties in the Senate and House of Representatives.
Though Hogan is frequently reluctant to weigh in on federal issues, he has urged Congress not to jeopardize health care expansions that provide coverage to Maryland residents.
The Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, has broad bipartisan support in Congress but expired earlier this year and is tied up in budget negotiations taking place this week before federal lawmakers adjourn for 2017.
About 142,000 children in Maryland receive health care through CHIP, and the state’s funding for the program could run out as soon as April.
In his letter, Hogan said allowing the state to run out of money will cost Maryland $30 million this fiscal year and $121 million the following year.
“This potential worst-case outcome places a tremendous financial and administrative burden on our state and sows fear and confusion among some of our most vulnerable populations,” Hogan wrote.
Democratic rivals urged Hogan to take a position on what he would do if the funding ran out.
“Will you step up and protect … Maryland children who stand lose their health care?” Ben Jealous, who is running for the Democratic nomination, wrote on Twitter. “What’s your plan to lead Maryland if Washington fails to provide real solutions?”
A spokesman for Hogan was not immediately available to comment.