Sen. Chris Coons recently joined a group of 22 senators in demanding that the fiscal 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill include $52.1 million for the State Health Insurance Assistance Program.

President Donald Trump’s budget proposal would eliminate the program. In a letter to HELP Committee Chairman Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, and HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray, D-Washington, the senators emphasized that SHIPs — which provide free help to Medicare beneficiaries who have questions or concerns about their health insurance — are an integral resource for seniors and people with disabilities.

“SHIPs are a critical source of information for our constituents. SHIPs serve as a trusted source of independent advice that help seniors, people with disabilities and their families navigate Medicare, choose the plans that work best for them and reduce their out-of-pocket costs,” the senators wrote. “With 10,000 Americans turning 65 and qualifying for Medicare every day, we should be expanding the ability of SHIPs to meet growing needs, not eliminating their ability to serve those who need assistance.”

“We ask that you protect this critical program by providing $52.1 million in FY 2018 for the SHIP program,” the senators continued.

The full text of the letter is available at