By Molly Daly

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The 25th birthday of the Children’s Health Insurance Program was celebrated Monday at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. But the event at times seemed more like a wake, as speakers warned that CHIP will soon die unless congress takes action.

Funding for CHIP, which provides health insurance for nearly 9 million children from mostly working class families, ran out in September, when Congress failed to reauthorize it, even though it has bipartisan support.

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CHOP pediatrician Dr. David Rubin says it neither makes sense nor is it good policy.

“When I think about the families that are at risk in my practice and throughout the region it’s outrageous to me that we’re still talking about this, and it’s outrageous because this is a program we all agree on,” he said. “This has bipartisan support.”

Colorado was the first of several states to notify families that their kids could soon be uninsured.

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“Just the sheer letter telling a family that they’re not going to have insurance for their children in the coming new year,” Dr. Rubin said. “That is not the Christmas gift that I think our legislators want our states to be sending families right now.”

Democratic Congressman Dwight Evans and Republican Pat Meehan both spoke in support of reauthorization, as did children’s advocate Donna Cooper.

“This is a breakdown in U.S. Congress as its responsibility to the children of this country, make no mistake,” Cooper said. “This has never happened before, and once this passes, we need to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”


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