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WVU Libraries exhibit recognizes Senator Rockefeller and the Children’s Health Insurance Program

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Children present Senator Rockefeller with a poster that reads, “Children Need a Chance.” Photograph from the Senator John D. Jay Rockefeller IV Archives, photographer unidentified, circa 1990s 
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West Virginia University Libraries will host an exhibit honoring the 20th anniversary of the Children’s Health Insurance Program from April 3-24 in the Downtown Campus Library’s Rockefeller Gallery.

“A Healthy Start: The Children’s Health Insurance Program” draws on Senator Jay Rockefeller’s congressional archives to explore the history of CHIP, his work to navigate the conflicts and compromises in Congress that brought it to fruition, and the real effects of policy on individuals. 

“The story of CHIP’s path through Congress and its implementation through state and federal collaboration can provide context and substance to current policy discussions about health care reform,” said Danielle Emerling, Assistant Curator and Congressional and Political Papers Archivist.

On August 5, 1997, President Bill Clinton signed CHIP into law, extending health coverage to millions of uninsured children with the largest federal investment in children’s health since the creation of Medicaid in 1965. Senator Rockefeller was instrumental in creating CHIP and in forming a bipartisan coalition in Congress that backed the expansion of children’s health care despite an inimical political climate. 

During his 30-year Senate career (1985-2015), Rockefeller became known as a leader for health care reform; an advocate for improving the lives of children and working families; and a supporter of the nation’s soldiers, veterans, and senior citizens. He served as chair of the Committee on Veterans Affairs; the Select Committee on Intelligence; the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; and the Committee on Finance Subcommittee on Medicare and Long-term Care. He also served as vice-chair of the Select Committee on Intelligence.

The exhibition is sponsored by WVU Libraries, the West Virginia & Regional History Center, and the WVU John D. Rockefeller IV School of Policy and Politics. In November 2014, Rockefeller designated WVU Libraries as the permanent home of the John D. Rockefeller IV Senatorial Archives, and WVU dedicated the John D. Rockefeller IV Gallery in the Downtown Campus Library in honor of the Democratic senator’s nearly 50 years of public service to the citizens of West Virginia. At the same time, he announced the naming of the John D. Rockefeller IV School of Policy and Politics at WVU, the only multi-disciplinary, degree-granting policy school linked to a robust political archives collection in the country.

The exhibition opens during Congress Week, recognized annually during the first week of April by the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress to promote a better public understanding of the legislative branch. WVU Libraries is an institutional member of ACSC and joins in the national celebration of Congress Week.



CONTACT: Danielle Emerling
West Virginia & Regional History Center Assistant Curator and Congressional and Political Papers Archivist

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