While we have been so focused on what Congress is doing, or at least attempting to do, we missed a huge “what they didn’t do.” On September 30 Congress let CHIP expire. Now, perhaps you hear “expired chips” and think nothing of it, but this was actually a big deal.
What is CHIP?
CHIP stands for Children’s Health Insurance Program. CHIP was a bipartisan effort passed by Sen. Orin Hatch and Sen. Kennedy in 1997. It was enacted to insure children even when their family’s income is too high to be Medicaid eligible, but still have difficulty paying for healthcare. It is jointly administered and funded by federal and state governments. While states vary in specific benefits, every state covers basic services such as shots, prescriptions, and doctor visits.
The bill was written to require renewal every couple of years. Renewal has not been a problem before and Congress has gotten its act together in the past even after some tense negotiations. However, this year the deadline to renew funding came and went.
Bills to renew CHIP’s funding have been introduced in both houses. The Senate bill, the KIDS Act, has bipartisan support and is ready to be voted on and passed. However, the House GOP’s proposed bill, known as the “HEALTHY KIDS” Act, would slash more than $5 billion from the ACA’s Prevention and Public Health Fund in order to fund CHIP.
Why does this matter?
According to Medicaid.gov, 8.9 million children are enrolled in CHIP and are now in danger of losing access to healthcare as states begin to exhaust their Federal CHIP money. This can happen as early as December… gee Happy Holidays from your loving Congress!
What can WE do?
First, call, text, fax, AND email your senators and representative EVERY DAY. Regardless of blue or red, each congressperson needs to own this failure. Ask them what they have done today to renew funding for CHIP. There is a script below for both houses.
Second, SPREAD AWARENESS. Remember how we stopped those awful healthcare bills…3 TIMES? We need to get LOUD about this. Tell your friends and family to get loud. Share this post. This is NOT a Democrat versus Republican issue. These are CHILDREN and we are talking about their healthcare.
**SCRIPT** borrowed from 5 calls
Hi, my name is [NAME] and I’m a constituent from ________.
[IF SENATE]: I’m calling to urge Senator_______ to support the KIDS Act, S. 1827, to reauthorize Children’s Health Insurance Program funding. Millions of children rely on this funding for insurance, and its reauthorization should not be held hostage to score partisan victories.
[IF HOUSE]: I’m calling to urge __________ to support bipartisan reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Millions of children rely on this funding for insurance, and its reauthorization should not be held hostage to score partisan victories like cuts to the Prevention and Public Health Fund in the proposed HEALTHY KIDS bill.
Thank you so much for your time.
[IF LEAVING A MESSAGE: Please leave your full address to ensure the call is tallied.]
This is an EASY naptime or “watching” soccer practice action. As parents, we know how vital those checkups, shots, and medications are to children. We know this inaction by Congress is endangering MILLIONS of children. It is our responsibility to speak up. We cannot call ourselves activists if we are not moved to action by this issue.