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Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks at Ville Platte High School during his visit to announce the launch of French Immersion Programs beginning in the 2017-18 school year at Ville Platte Elementary and Mamou Elementary Wednesday, May 24, 2017, at in Ville Platte, La.

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK

Gov. John Bel Edwards joined 11 other governors on Tuesday in urging Congressional leaders to re-authorize the Children's Health Insurance Program, a popular health care safety net that covers thousands of Louisiana children.

"As health insurance premiums climb at unsustainable rates, this program gives hard-working families access to otherwise unaffordable coverage," the bipartisan group of governors wrote in a letter Tuesday. "We encourage you to work across the aisle to find common ground that will allow this important program to continue and give the families who rely on CHIP the peace of mind of knowing that their children will be able to get the health care they need in the new year."

The Edwards administration has estimated that Louisiana will run out of funding for CHIP in January if Congress doesn't act. The independent Kaiser Family Foundation's analysis estimates the state would be able to finance the program through February or March.

About 122,000 Louisiana children are on CHIP. The program, which provides health care coverage for those 18 and younger, is available to households that fall under specified income caps. The cap currently comes out to about $53,388 a year for a family of four.

Despite bipartisan support for CHIP, its reauthorization has become sidelined by debates over health care policy and taxes and government spending.

Edwards last week sent a letter to Louisiana's delegation urging them to prioritize CHIP's reauthorization.

Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.