"We appreciate Jay Rockefeller's role and the state has managed CHIP really well. The program continues to improve the health of our kids," Pore said.
"Dr. William Neal, a pediatrician at West Virginia University, credits the CHIP program for better results in cholesterol [tests] on students today."
Since eligibility for CHIP benefits goes up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, it reaches well into the middle class. In 2012, the federal poverty guideline for a family of four was $23,050 in annual income; 300 percent of that guideline was $69,150.
"Sen. Rockefeller was the key to making the program happen and in defending it when the Bush Administration wanted to kill it."
Gary Zuckett, executive director of the West Virginia Citizen Action Group, said, "Because of CHIP, the vast majority of West Virginia children from working families that cannot afford insurance now have insurance coverage."
"Unfortunately a lot of parents of those children cannot afford health care coverage for themselves. If the parents get sick, the children can still risk losing their homes.
"That is why it is so important that we expand the state's Medicaid program under the Affordable Health Care Act."
Zuckett said Medicaid expansion could cover more than 100,000 working adults who need coverage.
"More federal money will come into our state's health care system. We will have less uncompensated care and more jobs in our state's health care system.
"Right now, West Virginia has some of the most stringent requirements to get access to Medicaid of almost any state in the country.
"The CHIP program is a good model for the expansion of Medicaid," Zuckett said.
Rockefeller said his "passion for expanding health coverage for children was born in those early days in Emmons [as a VISTA volunteer], where my moral compass was set. I still well up with deep emotion when I think of all CHIP has accomplished.
"While we celebrate this anniversary and all of the improvements to health and dental care for our children, it's a good time to remember that our work is far from over. I will never stop fighting to see children across West Virginia get the care they rightfully deserve."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.