The Children’s Health Insurance Program, a federally funded initiative that provides health insurance for 9 million children, expired over the weekend after congress failed to reauthorize the program.
Preoccupied with ripping away health care from another 32 million people by passing Graham-Cassidy, congressional leaders missed a crucial deadline to re-approve funding for CHIP — a program intended to benefit moderate and lower income families. Without swift action, millions of children could lose basic access to health care as several states’ CHIP funds will be drained by the year’s end.
As noted by The Washington Post, CHIP’s implementation under President Bill Clinton was fundamental to lowering the percentage of uninsured children from 14% in 1997 to 4.5% in 2015, when it was last reauthorized. But according to the federal government’s own estimates, Arizona, DC, Minnesota, and North Carolina will run out of money by December. If congress fails to act by the end of March next year, 27 states will have drained their CHIP funding.
Last year, CHIP cost the government $13.6 billion. In addition to providing routine checkups, immunizations, dental care, vision care, emergency services, and lab work for children who are enrolled in the program, CHIP also covers pregnant women in some states. With CHIP, parents who qualified for the program paid little to nothing for their child’s health care.
Representative Joe Crowley of New York, the House Democratic Caucus Chairman, released a statement on Friday blasting Republicans for missing the deadline and demanded congressional leaders act immediately before states start to run out of CHIP funds. “Ensuring that children, who would otherwise have no access to comprehensive health care, have the guarantee of coverage should be a bipartisan issue,” said Crowley. “Extending this critical program must be a top priority when Congress returns to Washington.”