Half of the nation’s children 3 and under covered by CHIP, Medicaid

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 14:  University of Chicago medical students host rally to call on Congress to reauthorize funding forthe Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) on December 14, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. On September 30, congress let funding for CHIP expire, leaving states to carry the burden for medical expenses of the 9 million children enrolled in the program.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

It’s been 94 days since the Republican Congress allowed funding to expire for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and community health center funding expired. Of the 9 million kids whose healthcare has been jeopardized by Republicans’ decision to turn them into hostages, 7.7 million are aged 3 or younger, either on CHIP or Medicaid. That’s 49 percent of the whole population of infants and toddlers.

“Because young children and their parents rely on Medicaid at higher rates than older children and their parents, contractions of Medicaid funding would have outsize effects on families with young children,” Urban Institute researchers wrote in the report.

Such “contractions” in CHIP and Medicaid spending became more real before the holidays when the Republican-led Congress passed a temporary budget that only extended CHIP through the end of March, leaving long-term funding up in the air. Furthermore, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan says he wants to consider entitlement reforms in healthcare that could lead to reduced spending on Medicaid, CHIP and other healthcare programs. He hasn’t been specific in what he wants to “reform” but several media reports say he’s got health insurance in his sights. […]

“Among the youngest children ages 3 or younger, nearly half have coverage through Medicaid or CHIP—which means that these programs are especially critical to meeting kids’ health needs in the early years but also making the youngest children particularly vulnerable to program cutbacks,” Haley said. “Failure to prioritize CHIP funding would result in increases in uninsurance among children at pivotal early ages and could have adverse effects on their access to needed health care and families’ financial stability.”

Maybe Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), now that he’s secured his questionable legacy of giving the most massive tax cut ever to the donor class, will try to rehabilitate his image a little by making sure CHIP funding gets through. Or maybe he just doesn’t care anymore about the program he spends so much time bragging about creating.

Regardless, Congress has to act in the next few weeks or states have to start shutting their programs down. Alabama and Connecticut are literally running on borrowed time—the few billion Congress scraped up in the temporary spending bill last month.

Jam the phone lines of House and Senate Republicans. Make the first call to Hatch. Call (202) 224-3121, and tell him to stop holding kids hostage and to pass a clean funding bill for CHIP and community health centers.

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