For years the CHIP program has enjoyed bipartisan federal support, but during the battle over the Affordable Care Act, the deadline to fund it expired.

Now Gov. Kate Brown has asked the Oregon Health Authority to find the money to keep CHIP going — at least until April — even if that creates a budget shortfall.

That means 80,000 children and 1,700 pregnant women at risk of losing coverage will keep it. That’s equivalent to the population of Bend.

“These kids are from vulnerable families and they rely on CHIP to pay for vital medical care,” said Patrick Allen, Director of the Oregon Health Authority. “It would be a tragedy for them to lose coverage or have an interruption in coverage because Congress has failed to act.”

There’s hope Congress may still pass funding for CHIP. It covers children from low- and middle-income families whose parents make too much to qualify for Medicaid but who struggle to buy health insurance.

“In the months to come, dozens of other states will be severely impacted if Congress does not act to authorize funding for CHIP,” said Gov. Brown in a letter to the Oregon Health Authority.

“As Governor, I am reaching out to my counterparts in other states to work together and urge Congress to turn their attention to the health care needs of our nation’s children.”

CHIP means about 98 percent of Oregon’s children have health coverage.