Millions of Children Are Still About to Lose Their Health Insurance

Despite widespread outcry, Republicans are still endangering health care access for millions of U.S. children — and the situation is starting to get dire. Can’t figure out why health insurance for children has suddenly become a partisan issue instead of something we can all agree on? You’re not alone.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, provides health insurance coverage to low-income children and pregnant people if their families earn too much to access Medicaid. Established in 1997, it acts as a bridge for those who can’t afford their own insurance policies.

Each state administers the program independently, though they need to meet certain guidelines. Some use federal funds to create a Medicaid expansion, while others keep CHIP separate. Thanks to the program, nearly nine million children receive the health care they need.

When Congress decided to allow CHIP funding to expire on September 30, a clock began ticking: Once states eat through their funding reserves, they won’t be able to provide this critical financial assistance.

Some states are already sending out notices warning the public that they’re about to lose insurance, while others are informing the federal government that they plan to freeze enrollment and wind down the program.

Because their states don’t link CHIP to Medicaid, four million children are at immediate risk, making it difficult to roll them over to Medicaid plans. Other children on CHIP may be in future peril because the federal funding shortfall will make it challenging for their states to provide coverage.

A compounding challenge is that states have already passed their budgets under the assumption that CHIP funding from the federal government would support their health care problems. The refusal to reauthorize that funding will force legislators to pass budget amendments that will likely involve deep cuts to health care services for low-income residents to make up the shortfall.

Republicans seem to think this is acceptable: President George W. Bush has previously criticized CHIP for going too far. With health care on everyone’s mind this year — and Republicans still determined to eke out a win on health policy — putting millions of children at risk is evidently being viewed as a sound political tactic.

CHIP enjoys bipartisan support, though, and attacking the program could backfire for Republicans.

In the House, H.R. 3921 — the Healthy Kids Act – would extend CHIP by five years, and a matching Senate bill, S. 1827, the Kids Act, would do the same. The House bill was introduced by Republican Michael Burgess of Texas, while Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah introduced the Senate bill. Hatch’s bill enjoys bipartisan support, highlighting that some Republicans are concerned about children’s access to health care — and willing to work to protect it.

However, the two bills are not identical, which means that if the House and Senate both pass them, they’ll have to go to a conference committee to iron out the differences and present a unified bill for final approval. In the meantime, states are running up against a funding deadline. Every day without a reauthorization puts kids in danger.

Take Action!

Your members of Congress need to know that you are concerned about health care access for kids and that you enthusiastically support these renewal bills. Better health care for children is a net good for society, and voters of all parties have expressed a strong desire to retain CHIP funding.

Contact your representative and senators, and don’t let up until Congress agrees to do right by America’s youth. Consider signing this Care2 petition urging Congress to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Photo Credit: sopasnor/Flickr

40 comments

Mike R
Mike R12 days ago

Thanks

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Mike R
Mike R12 days ago

Thanks

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Richard A
Richard A24 days ago

Take healthcare from children but grant person-hood to a clump of cells in-utero.

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Mike R
Mike Rabout a month ago

Sad

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Mike R
Mike Rabout a month ago

Sad

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Richard A
Richard Aabout a month ago

Aaron F - - - Really?

And your proof would be?

It is the republican House that did not act in 2017. Congress allowed CHIP to expire on September 30, 2017. They were too busy trying to figure out how to give tax cuts to billionaires. They are also willing to use the health of our children as a bargaining chip, as a hostage until they get the so-called tax cuts that they covet.

Our former "leader" as you label him has been out of office for quite a while now.

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Ben O
Ben Oabout a month ago

Are we talking a civilized country here, or what...???

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Paulo Reeson
Paulo Reeson1 months ago

ty

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Paulo Reeson
Paulo Reeson1 months ago

ty

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Aaron F
Past Member 1 months ago

Excuse me...but millions of children don't have health insurance now because of our former "leader"...

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