Congress get your act together and fund CHIP

By Peter Rosenstein - November 24, 2017 4:24 pm

While it seems half the men in congress are being accused of some form of inappropriate behavior and the other half are wracking their memory to see if they are next, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) may expire. Congress already missed a September 30th deadline to extend the program and many states are using left-over funds that will run out by the end of the year.

Inaction on this program would be a bigger disgrace then what some are being accused of by the brave women coming forth. I am not denigrating in any way what they may have suffered but doing nothing on the CHIP program may actually cause the death of some of the 8.9 million children who need the healthcare it provides.

This program has always been supported by Democrats and Republicans. It was first passed after Hillary Clinton failed in her efforts to get congress to pass national healthcare during Bill Clinton’s presidency. She then worked with Senator Kennedy (D-MA) and others including Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to push for this legislation and to get twenty-four billion dollars appropriated for it.

According to the Washington Post “Most CHIP families, who earn too much for Medicaid but too little to afford private insurance, are not aware lawmakers’ inaction is endangering coverage. They’re about to find out, though. Virginia and several other states are preparing letters to go out as early as Monday warning families their children’s insurance may be taken away. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which administers the program at the federal level, issued a notice to state health officials on Nov. 9 detailing their options if CHIP funding does run dry. States forced to end the program will need to determine whether enrolled children are eligible for Medicaid or whether their family will need to seek insurance through an Affordable Care Act marketplace, the guidance said.”

If this sounds like a joke many families will not be laughing. The Administration that is actively trying to destroy the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is telling states and families to look to it to possibly save their children’s lives. This is about millions of children and if the do-nothing Congress can’t even get together to extend funding for this program they should all be thrown out.

It is way beyond time the American people hold this Congress responsible for getting the basics done. While Republicans are desperately trying to pass some legislation, any legislation, to appease their base many people in that base will suffer because the basics like extending funding for CHIP aren’t being done.

Instead the Republican leadership in this Congress is looking to take away healthcare from millions and trying to pass a tax reform bill that will add $1.5 trillion dollars to the national debt under their own reckoning. Recently nearly every leading economist in the nation agreed the bill would do this. They are peddling a bill that is a give-away to the richest people in the country and to corporations and the President thinks this is a great idea.

I am asking every Senator and member of the House of Representatives who supports extending funding of the CHIP program, no matter which Party they are in, to sign a letter to Speaker Ryan (R-WI) and Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY), and the President, committing to vote for a clean bill to extend funding for CHIP. If they don’t sign it would be a clear indication to their constituents they are willing to let children die as they continue to fight each other on ideological grounds on every other issue they are dealing with.

Children aren’t Democrats or Republicans. They are a constituency with no voice of their own. If members of Congress won’t stand up and speak for them they should be ashamed. I call on the voters to defeat any legislator who won’t sign such a letter.

Our children are the future. The ones who need the care they get from the CHIP program are part of that future and we must do everything we can to keep them healthy and alive. Extending funding for CHIP is important to all of us.


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