As the nation’s leading volunteer eye health organization, Prevent Blindness has consistently advocated for policies that ensure Americans of all ages have access to the vision and eye health services they need. For months, families with children who rely on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) have patiently waited for Congress to safeguard their access to affordable, sight-saving care through a long-term extension of CHIP, which expired on Sept. 30, 2017.
Eyesight directly impacts a child’s healthy development, including motor skills, social and emotional development, cognition, and their ability to learn. Vision impairments in children are very common, with 12.1 million children, or about 1 in 20, having some form of it, including amblyopia, strabismus, and/or refractive errors. These conditions are highly treatable if detected early through the vision screenings and eye examinations provided under CHIP; however, Congressional inaction has placed states in a tough position as they consider the future of their programs and the services they can provide.
This week, Congress is considering legislation to continue funding the federal government through another Continuing Resolution. This legislation includes an extension of CHIP for 6 years, through 2023. Children and families who need vision care services have waited long enough. We urge Congress to enact a long-term extension for CHIP as swiftly as possible, and ensure that children continue to have access to the vision care services they need to grow, develop, learn, and play.