Children's health should be more important than tax cuts

Galtero Lara
Diciembre 18, 2017

The program - which provides free and low-priced health insurance to children whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but still can not afford private insurance - expired on October 1, after the GOP-led House and Senate failed to act on a measure to reauthorize funding for the program. If they fail this bipartisan, relatively cheap program that does so much good for children across the country, each member of Congress should have to personally go to the homes of the families in their district and explain to them why an ideology is more important than their children's health.

Beyond September 2019, If the Legislature and next governor decide to preserve CHIP as a state program in the event of a continued lack of federal dollars, state government may have to find $2 billion for the program.

MS has time left on the clock for the Children's Health Insurance Program, but other states are starting to scramble. He joins Soledad O'Brien to talk about why he says Congress needs to act now, what he has heard from conversations with the White House and why he thinks the program should be turned over to the states. Most often, the parents of children in CHIP work for employers who don't offer insurance; participants in the program pay premiums based on a sliding income scale. "I'm hopeful that a reauthorization for CHIP will be included in the CR (congressional resolution) that Congress will take up next week, so our kids can get the care they need". A third of states are expecting to run out of funding before the end of January, though Congress has yet to act to fix the program.

"We're closely monitoring congressional efforts to reauthorize the program and are hopeful that it will be extended prior to the exhaustion of our current allotment", said Carrie Williams, chief press officer for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

In addition to the 66,000 children who would lose coverage entirely, approximately 59,000 Virginia children would be switched to Medicaid if CHIP is not funded, McAuliffe said.

Reuters reported lawmakers had hoped to pass a five-year CHIP funding extension before they adjourned for the year.

So why hasn't Congress renewed CHIP?

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But she is anxious about the prospect of families losing health coverage for their children, recalling instances where families have delayed care for urgent health needs because they lacked coverage. It serves 8.9 million children nationwide and provides maternity care for about 370,000 women. States also contribute a portion to the program - a year ago NY allocated $156 million to the program, known in the state as Children's Health Plus.

In the last two fiscal years, FAMIS has paid for 218,190 immunizations and 221,309 well-child checkups, according to Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

In Pennsylvania, a family of four with an income of up to $51,168 can receive free CHIP insurance for their children, while a family of four with an income of up to $77,244 qualifies for low-priced CHIP insurance, according to the state Department of Human Services.

It, of course, comes down to money and politics.

The federal program has had broad public and bipartisan support since it was begun in 1997.

Instead of expanding coverage to new groups of people, it used the funding to reduce the state's portion of costs for people already covered under Medicaid.

More than 100 women in Bell County qualify for perinatal services.

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