Expiry Date Came and Went
On September 30th, funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expired. Congress is responsible for the funding of this program, which provides healthcare for children of low-income families. Their income is too high to be eligible for Medicaid, but not high enough to afford their children’s health care.
CHIP provides health benefits to nearly 9 million children. Some of the families who rely on CHIP are those of infants with chronic heart disease, genetic disorders, cancer and more.
A mother in Oregon speaks to Reuters, about the expiry of CHIP.
It’s hard enough when your child is sick and you’re waiting to see if they can get well, let alone waiting to see if you’re going to be covered, (Reuters).
States Scrambling for a Solution
States have been scrambling since the expiry date to find a way to keep CHIP running. Minnesota ran out of money in November, and are supplementing the program from its own budget, risking a deficit.
Oregon will run out of money before the end of the year, while a third of states will run out by the end of January, 2018. By the end of March, another 21 states will join them.
We are spending a ridiculous amount of time and energy trying to kick Congress in the seat of their pants to get this done, Oregon Governor Kate Brown (Reuters).
Hospitals Running on Fumes
Emergency meetings have been convened all over the country to see how they can continue to provide care. Their priority is to take care of their severely ill patients. Secondly, they are analyzing the cost they will absorb due to uninsured children.
States have begun sending out notices to families, urging them to book appointments and refill prescriptions before their coverage expires. In response, hospitals are scrambling to try and meet these needs.
CHIP has enjoyed support from both the Democratic and Republican parties, who seem to agree that children’s health care takes precedence over political discourse.
That is, up until now.
The GOP has ignored extending the funding for the program. This leaves no time to renew it before the end of the year. Instead, they focus their attention on other legislative battles, such as a failed attempt to repeal Obamacare. Their attention has also been largely consumed in the new overhaul of the tax system.
We must seriously question the focus of Congress, and why it is not on vital programs such as CHIP. It is not a part of Obamacare. CHIP does not fall under any particular party’s campaign interests. CHIP falls under human interest and basic decency.
As Dr. Aschner of the Montefiore Children’s Hospital tells Reuters,
No child should be the pawn of politics.
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