By Amanda Litvinov
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Republican leaders in Congress have said that renewing funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is on their radar—but they have yet to take the lead on restoring federal funding for the popular bipartisan program that covers more than 9 million children and more than 350,000 pregnant women.
CHIP expired more than 100 days ago on Sept. 30.
Last month, Sen. Orrin Hatch—who helped write the bill that established CHIP—was challenged by Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who asked why Congress was about to pass massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy while the Children’s Health Insurance Program was running on fumes.
Hatch responded: “The reason CHIP’s having trouble is we don’t have any money anymore.” His words irked many of his colleagues, who expected more of the chair of the Senate tax writing committee.
It does not take a math teacher to figure this out. The G.O.P.’s $1.5 trillion tax cut package, weighted toward the wealthy and big corporations and signed into law by President Trump on Dec. 22, will only make it harder to restore funding for critical programs like CHIP, or federal education programs such as the Individuals with Disabilities Act, the Secure Rural Schools Act, and Title I.
Congress must pass a spending bill before Jan. 19 to avert a government shutdown. Children’s health and education advocates, from the American Association of Pediatrics to educator unions, are calling for an immediate five-year renewal of CHIP that is not tied to cuts to other programs or negotiations around other policy issues.
Even the short-term funding fix that was supposed to ensure CHIP would remain funded through March is faulty. Ten states—Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Ohio, and Washington—plus the District of Columbia, will likely run out of CHIP funds before the end of February, according to a new report from the Georgetown Center for Children and Families.
Some states have already notified families that they could soon lose health coverage for their children. Others states will continue to fund CHIP on their own and make cuts elsewhere—like education budgets—in order to make up for the loss of federal funds.
Sen. Brown is one of a handful of senators who have been particularly vocal about the urgent need to restore federal funding for CHIP. Give these senators a hat tip by sharing their social media content (you can click on the date stamp of any post or tweet to do so).
Most important of all: Tell your members of Congress to restore federal funding for CHIP.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin
— Sen. Tammy Baldwin (@SenatorBaldwin) January 2, 2018
Sen. Sherrod Brown, Ohio
Today marks 101 days since #CHIP funding expired. That’s 101 days that Congress has let families wake up in fear that their child will lose their health coverage.
— Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) January 9, 2018
Sen. Bob Casey, Pennsylvania
Instead of reauthorizing CHIP, which has now expired, or investing in infrastructure, congressional Republicans have passed a tax plan that gives over $36 billion dollars in 2019 to the country’s richest 572,000 households – those making over $1 million a year.
— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) December 20, 2017
Sen. Joe Donnelly, Indiana
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, North Dakota
— Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (@SenatorHeitkamp) January 7, 2018
Sen. Tim Kaine, Virginia
As Rs pop champagne over their Christmas gift to Trump (a giant tax cut for him/his pals), families are left to wonder if their kids will have CHIP, if Dreamers will be deported, oh and whether fed’l workers will be furloughed and our economy sucker-punched by a gov’t shut down. pic.twitter.com/cNUSHBTRI6
— Tim Kaine (@timkaine) December 20, 2017
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Michigan
Yet another reason why Congress should vote NOW to fund children’s health insurance – it will save $6 billion if extended for 10 years! https://t.co/FdAtitxFOz
— Sen. Debbie Stabenow (@SenStabenow) January 10, 2018
Sen. Jon Tester, Montana
Being able to help kids like Sage get lifesaving treatment, without financially ruining their families, is why I’m fighting to reauthorize CHIP. This year, I’ll keep working to increase access to quality, affordable health care for folks across our great state. #mtpol pic.twitter.com/rt0uP13WKv
— Senator Jon Tester (@SenatorTester) January 2, 2018