Tens of thousands of Colorado children set to lose health insurance unless Congress acts

DENVER -- Andrew Montoya wishes he didn't have to worry about the health care for his three children. He does.

Montoya's three girls are among 75,000 children in Colorado set to lose health insurance in the state.

Congress allowed the Children's Health Insurance Program to expire at the end of September. Unless action is taken soon, cuts will begin to be made.

Colorado has enough money to fund the program through the end of January.

"When she gets sick, we don't have to worry about whether we have the funds to cover doctors visits," Montoya said.

"We actually take them to a karate class a couple times a week. We wouldn't be able to afford that if we had to sink those hundreds of dollars into providing health care coverage."

Colorado's leaders have reason to be optimistic Congress will reach a compromise.

A measure, supported by Republican Sen. Cory Gardner and Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, advanced in the finance committee on Wednesday.

"We are guardedly optimistic but we need Congress to act," said Susan Birch, executive director of Health Care Policy and Planning for Colorado.

Birch said CHIP doesn't just impact children. An estimated 800 pregnant women benefit from the program as well.

Birch is advising  all those potentially impacted to know what insurance options are available.

"They need to start thinking about what products are available in my county or my region. We want parents to be savvy, smart shoppers and think about this in case Congress does not get their act together," Birch said.

As for Montoya, he has this message to leaders in Congress.

"It's pretty disappointing to see Congress playing politics on the backs of our children," he said.

In Colorado, families of four making up to $5,300 a month qualify for CHIP.