Wheeling mom to speak before Congress to defend Children's Health Insurance Program

Lawrence Kim
December 18, 2017

The funding cycle for the Children's Health Insurance Program, also known as CHIP, actually ended September 30, and so far, Democrats and Republicans are in disagreement over the method of extending CHIP's funding.

Helen Jones, director of social work at SouthEast Lancaster Health Services, told LNP's Heather Stauffer in an email that not reauthorizing the program would be devastating. Congress let the program's authorization expire on September 30.

In a letter to the editor published in the November 5 Sunday LNP, Teresa Miller, acting secretary of the state Department of Human Services, wrote: "Studies have shown that children who do not have health insurance are at greater risk for disease, recurring illnesses, and poor performance in school".

Although some families can receive CHIP for free, Barnhart said she pays about $75 a month, in addition to the co-pays for the doctor, hospital and urgent care visits. It serves 8.9 million children nationwide and provides maternity care for about 370,000 women. It has been credited with reducing the number of uninsured Americans under the age of 19 from 14 percent at the program's inception to 4.7 percent a year ago, according to federal figures.

Supporters of the program hoped that Congress would re-fund CHIP through the continuing resolution it passed to keep the government open on December 8, but that did not happen. If the program is not renewed, HHSC will also send all children receiving CHIP to the Marketplace via an account transfer.

It, of course, comes down to money and politics. Other states have begun preparing to wind down their programs should all funding dry up.

"Last week the House included legislative language in our funding bill to ensure sufficient funding through the end of the year for CHIP", Brat said in the statement, which was part of a letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitchell McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

And yet the Republicans in the House and the Senate are perfectly fine with passing a tax bill that gives huge tax breaks to corporations and the 1 percent while massively increasing the federal budget deficit and giving a few crumbs to the middle and lower classes - crumbs that will taken away in just a few years. "I don't know what could be more disgusting than putting a tax cut that mostly goes to rich people ahead of the lives of children".

You'd think that at this time of year, even members of Congress would be a bit more giving, a bit more likely to think of their constituents who might need just a little help from their government to keep their children healthy. She is hoping Congress decides to re-authorize the funding.

"Congress is failing the children of Pennsylvania and causing unnecessary anxiety for families around the holidays", Wolf said in a news release on Monday. However, because of the way it uses its share of CHIP funding, Minnesota has not been hit as hard (more on that in a bit).

I don't know about you, I've had enough of this. A teary-eyed Kimmel called on Congress to act, explaining that, "Parents of children with cancer, diabetes and heart problems are about to get letters saying their coverage could be cut off next month".

If Congress does not reauthorize CHIP, the state stands to lose an estimated $147.5 million in the fiscal year that concludes at the end of June, and $259 million annually starting in fiscal 2019 if MassHealth, the state Medicaid program, maintained the current program, according to the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

Wolf further emphasized his call for federal action when he signed the state's reauthorization bill on Friday.

"This is not a partisan issue, but a program that provides essential health services for vulnerable children", state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker wrote in an October 11 letter to acting U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Eric Hargan, calling for CHIP's renewal.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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