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Close to the Cliff: How CHIP Might Fail

Photo Credit: Getty / Steve Debenport
Close to the Cliff: How CHIP Might Fail
By Pete Levine ·

Kids’ health should never be a partisan issue, but it has become one in Congress.

About 9 million children in working families get covered through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which enjoys bipartisan support on Capitol Hill. But Congress hasn’t been able to agree on a way to keep CHIP going.

Sadly, that means the prospect of many of those 9 million children losing their health insurance is drawing closer. Funding for the program, which covers kids of low- and middle-income families, lapsed on September 30.

The fight on Capitol Hill was not about the basic CHIP policy. But some right-wing members of Congress want to pay for CHIP by taking away health care from others.

As a result of this inaction, some states, like Alabama, are already sending letters to parents of kids enrolled in CHIP to let them know their coverage will soon be terminated and that no new enrollees will be allowed.

Among the first states that are in line to lose CHIP funding are California, Florida, Pennsylvania and Oregon. Check out this article from The New York Times to learn more.

Despite congressional inertia, CHIP remains a priority for many.

According to Politico: “A POLITICO-Harvard poll shows CHIP is now the top priority for Democratic voters — and a separate Morning Consult/POLITICO poll found 67 percent of the public would ‘definitely’ or ‘maybe’ support shutting down the government, if that’s what it takes to get CHIP funded.”

CHIP was established in 1997 to provide insurance to kids who don’t qualify for Medicaid but whose parents either don’t receive insurance through work or can’t afford their employer-provided insurance.

Calling on congressional leaders to put aside partisanship is common sense. Calling on the congressional leadership to put aside partisanship to fund CHIP to save the lives of millions of kids is common decency.

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