A good, but infuriating, piece by David Dayen. I hope that Democrats get their acts together enough to do something about CHIP. Obviously Republicans will be difficult to impossible to negotiate with, but Democrats have to try. Really try.
As lawmakers prepare to pass massive tax cuts for the wealthy, nearly 20 million poor Americans are needlessly at risk of losing their health insurance.
In five states (Arizona, California, Minnesota, Ohio, and Oregon) and the District of Columbia, what funding remained for CHIP will run out by the end of December. Federal officials found $542 million in leftover cash in September, but that is now gone. More than half the states will have no cash for their programs by March 2018.
It’s worse than I thought.
Officials in eleven states are sending letters to unsuspecting parents as early as this week, warning them that their children will no longer be able to get insurance in the near future, absent congressional action. Instead of using scarce funds to get children vaccinations, they’re spending it on mass mailings delivering the bad news. West Virginia has already voted to close down CHIP on February 28 if nothing is done.
(Are you telling me that the federal government doesn’t already cover the cost of vaccinations? That would be outrageous if true. Vaccinations play a big part in public health and safety.)
House Republicans have drawn the line at how to pay for the extensions. The House actually passed a bill that extended CHIP for five years and community health centers for two. But they covered the $24 billion price tag in part by raiding the ACA’s Public Health and Prevention Fund and increasing Medicare premiums for marginally wealthier seniors. Democrats balked, and the Senate hasn’t been able to come up with a formula that is agreeable to both parties.
There’s not much to raid in the Public Health and Prevention Fund. Its projected spending for 2016 is $931 million.
If Washington can’t figure out how to keep 18 million of the poorest Americans from losing critical assistance—directed through uncontroversial policies at that!—then members of Congress should leave town and be forced to stand post at emergency rooms in their districts, explaining how they screwed this one up so badly. Or maybe we can tie funding for Congress’s own health plans to the ones helping poor pregnant women and children. If they can’t fund the latter, why do politicians deserve the former?
I like Dayen’s feisty style.
Even Joe Manchin calls cutting CHIP “shameful”. Of course, that might be in part by how dependent West Virginia apparently is on the CHIP program.
more than 21,000 children in West Virginia are enrolled in the CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program)
“At this time, 24,000 Montana children are at risk of losing their health care coverage through CHIP,” Jon Ebelt, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Health and Human Services said in an email earlier this week. “Some states have already run out of funds. DPHHS is making plans to send letters to Montana families in mid-December that their children’s health coverage will end unless Congress reauthorizes the funding.”
And Alabama! Over 150,000 children could be affected negatively if CHIP is not funded.
Alabama splits the program between Alabama Medicaid — which covers children in poverty — and the Alabama Department of Public Health, which administers the All Kids program for those making up to 312 percent of the poverty level. All Kids covers about 83,000 children. Medicaid provides coverage to another 70,000 children in their program.
Nationwide, the 20-year-old program covers 9 million children and has been credited with sharp drops in the number of uninsured children. It’s had an equal impact in Alabama. A 2014 study found that the state had the lowest percentage of uninsured children in the South and that the total level of uninsured children dropped 18 percent between 2011 and 2014.
Democrats have been talking a lot about turnout these days. Voters need their representatives to show how hard they’re fighting for them! I think it’s as simple as that.
Doug Jones campaigned last Sunday night at a “predominantly African-American Democratic groups” annual dinner:
What most voters wanted to hear from Jones was talk about traditional Democratic issues, such as health care and economic development. Hale County, where Greensboro is located, had a 4.2 percent unemployment rate in September, roughly on par with the national average but higher than the state rate that month, and a number of people Sunday talked about the loss of well-paying jobs over the last few years.
Is Jones is listening? Maybe? I don’t think it would be unreasonable to think that Alabama voters might be hoping for a representative who promises a bit more than just wanting to “learn” and to push for hearings? Voters need action and energy, and their concerns truly addressed.
Health care was also on many people’s minds. The Greensboro Recreational Center sits across from Hale County Hospital; many of Alabama’s rural hospitals face uncertain futures, due in part to state leaders not opting into an expansion of Medicaid.
Speaking to the gathering for about 15 minutes Sunday night, Jones focused on health care and job creation, pledging to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and protect Medicaid and Medicare, while attacking Moore over comments that he wants to get the government out of the health care system, saying that threatened Medicaid and Medicare.
“I don’t have a silver bullet for health care,” Jones said. “What I want to do is learn. I want the Senate to have hearings on what’s working and not working, and you can understand what’s working and not working. I think that’s job number one for United States Senate.”
And they say that Doug Jones is vulnerable on the abortion issue:
“Nothing is more precious in the sight of most people than the life of the child, so I can see why people in Alabama would be enraged knowing that Doug Jones is willing to take the life of a child,” (Roy) Moore campaign chairman Bill Armistead told The Hill in an interview.
But is Roy Moore ready to commit to taking care of the women while they are pregnant?
Is Moore willing to commit to taking care of those “precious” children once they are born??
Jones needs to hammer Moore on this:
Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore said last month he will seek “patient-centered health care solutions” last month, but stopped short of committing to CHIP renewal
That’s what CHIP is, Mr. Moore, “patient-centered health care solutions”..
If Jones wants to drive turnout he would do well to call Moore out on his waffling on CHIP as well as sending out a much stronger signal of his own.
And nationally, how about an article with this headline to help drive some turn out?
‘Will this Congress go down in history as the most anti-child Congress ever??’
Or how about:
‘This Congress says its ‘pro-life’, but you cannot be ‘pro-life’ if you demolish support for pregnant women. That’s not even pro birth!’
Another angle, if Democrats so chose to use it, is that cutting CHIP puts yet another squeeze on states’ budgets, which could very well lead to increases in property taxes, which then leads to higher rents. In other words, these cuts have the potential to hurt almost everyone.
Then there’s this:
The Prevention Fund was created as a part of health care reform in 2010 as a tool to improve prevention activities. Since its creation, the fund has been cut by 50 percent, much of that to address the Medicare doctor fix, or sustainable growth rate as well as health care reform activities/ These reductions strain state public health at a time when overall public health funding is down. Budget cuts continue to impact state and local health departments, with the loss of over 51,000 jobs since 2008
Another angle right there. Republicans are always crowing about jobs, jobs, jobs.
The Republican de-funding of CHIP destroys jobs!
It’s time that the left gets as loud as the right. No, louder!
Fighters + strong sound-bites + real representation = turnout
The children and pregnant women in this country need some help, so that this country can become as strong and productive as possible.
When you come right down to it, it’s a matter of national security. Hey, there’s another angle. 😉