SAN ANTONIO - Time is running out for Congress if they want to keep funding the Children Health Insurance Program or CHIP.
Many states, including Texas, are preparing to send out termination letters right after the holidays.
"I think it's irresponsible," said Eric Cooper, CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank. "There's just not a better dollar spent than making sure kids have access to healthcare."
CHIP began two decades ago, covering children who could not be covered by Medicare and whose parents could not afford private insurance.
Pediatrician Ryan Van Ramshorst said that the program is crucial for his patients.
"CHIP allows my kids with asthma to get treated," he said. "It allows my 2-year-old patients to come and get their flu shot."
Congress has stalled on funding the program, leaving many parents in limbo. State Sen. Jose Menendez has written to Congress and to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, stressing something needs to be done.
"It's disgusting that we're even having this conversation," Menendez said. "CHIP and kids need to be a priority, they shouldn't be an afterthought.
Cooper, who helps many families navigate through the CHIP application process, said that the program is a matter of life and death.
"I'll ask them, 'What did you do before you had health insurance?' And they say they pray," he said. "That's their only alternative. I would give a prayer that Congress makes a decision for children to have access to physicians that can treat their illnesses in the way that my kids are treated."
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