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Dear Editor,

In response to Dr. Laumoli’s LTE, published in the Samoa News, on Oct. 12, 2017:

I greatly appreciate the writer’s thoroughness and expertise in the medical field. I share his commitment to this priority, and his dedication to seeing the services from this important program available and accessible to the children of American Samoa and everywhere in the U.S.

Fortunately, there is progress being made. Here’s the current status of the CHIP reauthorization effort.

In the Senate, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden held a hearing, titled “The Children's Health Insurance Program: the Path Forward” on September 7th of this year and shortly after, on October 4th, they announced a bipartisan agreement to extend CHIP funding, and that process is moving forward. This bill is titled the Keep Kids’ Insurance Dependable and Secure (KIDS) Act of 2017.

Also, in the House, CHIP legislation has passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee which has primary responsibility for this issue. This bill entitled the HEALTHY KIDS Act of 2017, authored by Rep. Burgess, a Republican from Texas, was passed in a committee hearing on October 4th as well.

Passage of each piece of these pieces of legislation by the full House and Senate is expected later this year, with a conference and final passage likely to follow before year’s end.

I will continue to be pay close attention to this legislation as it progresses and update you accordingly.

I am confident that reauthorizing CHIP is a high priority in Congress for Members of both political parties and both houses, and because of that, I’m optimistic that this legislation will be completed.

I share your strong opinion that these important services absolutely must be funded and continue to be available.

Families in American Samoa depend on these services, and I will continue to ensure my colleagues know that extending this funding is essential.

Aumua Amata