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Katko (copy)

U.S. Rep. John Katko testifies at House subcommittee hearing.

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Eight New York members of Congress, including U.S. Rep. John Katko, want an important health insurance program for children renewed in a year-end spending bill. 

The representatives sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi requesting a five-year extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides coverage to 9 million children. 

Congress hasn't acted to renew the program that expired Sept. 30. While New York officials say there is enough funding to keep the state's program funded into early 2018, other states have warned residents that benefits will end soon if CHIP isn't reauthorized. 

In New York, more than 300,000 children receive coverage through the Children's Health Insurance Program. 

"Congress must take immediate action in order to ensure continuous coverage for the roughly 9 million children benefiting from this program nationwide," Katko, R-Camillus, said. 

The House and Senate must approve a continuing resolution to fund the government before the end of the week. If an agreement isn't reached, a government shutdown is likely. 

The letter to Ryan, R-Wisconsin, and Pelosi, D-California, was signed by five Republicans, including Katko, and three Democrats. The other GOP members who signed the letter are U.S. Reps. Dan Donovan, Peter King, Elise Stefanik and Lee Zeldin. 

U.S. Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney, Kathleen Rice and Tom Suozzi were the Democratic members who signed the letter. 

The New Yorkers also urged action on two other health care-related provisions — funding community health centers and Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital payment reductions. Like the Children's Health Insurance Program, funding for community health centers expired this year. 

The Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital payment cuts could result in New York hospitals losing $800 million in federal funding. The members of Congress asked for a two-year delay in the payment cuts to ensure hospitals are able to provide services to patients. 

"While there are several important matters pending before Congress at present, these three issues are of particular importance to the state of New York," the members wrote. "We urge you to address these matters as promptly as possible to ensure essential healthcare services are delivered."

Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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