Nine million children in the United States are in danger of losing health insurance. On Sept. 30, Congress allowed funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program to expire, even though this has bipartisan support.

The program was created in 1997 to allow increased affordable health insurance for working families who do not qualify for Medicaid. In Maine, over 23,000 children are at risk of losing coverage.

Unless Congress moves to reinstate funding in a timely manner, there will be real consequences. Several states estimate that they will run out of funds before the end of the year and will be compelled to drop coverage. The administrative burden and the incredible anxiety for families (especially those with children who have chronic conditions needing frequent care) created by congressional feet-dragging should not be discounted and requires urgent action.

The Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly encourages our congressional delegation to push for an urgent resolution of this matter. Our children’s lives are at stake!

Deborah Hagler, M.D.

pediatrician, Mid Coast Hospital; vice president, Maine Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics