Yesterday, the U.S. Senate ensured continuing health coverage for millions of children by passing H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, provides low-cost health coverage to children in families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid. CHIP benefits notably include check-ups; immunizations; doctor visits; prescriptions; and hospital services. The House of Representatives already passed the bill in March, and President Barack Obama has indicated his intentions to sign it into law.

While CHIP is authorized through 2019, until yesterday its funding was only extended through 2015.

The legislation extended two years of funding for CHIP and numerous other important public health programs, including Community Health Centers; the National Health Service Corps; Teaching Health Centers; school health centers; and the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program.

“We know how vital these programs are in protecting our most vulnerable people,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director of APHA. “I applaud Congress for prioritizing access and ensuring that high-quality, affordable and age-appropriate health care is available for people who need it most. And we remain committed to seeing that funding for CHIP is extended for an additional two years.”

APHA sent a letter to senators in advance of Tuesday’s vote, urging swift passage of the bill.

“We’d like to thank our members and supporters for taking action and lending your voice to the effort,” Benjamin said.