While the Republicans who control Congress are obsessed with shoving a fake tax cut bill down our throats, millions of low income children are in danger of losing health care coverage because the politicians haven't found the time -- or the money -- to extend the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
I wrote about this several weeks ago, noting that states that rely on the program were running out of funds. Nothing has happened since then and the September 30 deadline for extending the program was missed, so now many states are sending letters to families telling them they will no longer have the health care they need for their children.
Nearly 9 million children from low income families and 370,000 pregnant women rely on the CHIP program. Most CHIP families earn too much for Medicaid, but too little to afford private health insurance.
According to this Washington Post article, many states have enough money to keep their individual programs afloat for at least a few months, but five could run out in late December if lawmakers do not act. Others will start to exhaust resources the following month.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a notice to state health officials on Nov. 9 telling states forced to end the program that they will need to determine whether enrolled children are eligible for Medicaid or whether their family will need to seek insurance through an Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace.
It's difficult to understand why Congress has allowed this situation to persist. CHIP is a popular program with bipartisan support. One can only assume that the Republicans' obsession to give Trump his fat cats' tax reform bill has simply pushed CHIP to the back burner. It could also be that it's another effort by Trump to sabotage a program that had been expanded under President Obama.
The Post article noted that the program is credited with helping to bring the rate of uninsured children to a record low of 4.5 percent and has been reauthorized several times over the years. Under the ACA, the federal government sharply boosted its match rate and now provides 88 percent or more of every state’s CHIP costs.
However, Congress has been unable to agree on how to pay for the $15 billion program moving forward, and in his 2018 budget, President Trump proposed cutting billions from CHIP over two years and limiting eligibility for matching funds.
Shows you what the priorities are these days in Washington. It's certainly not the children.