With money to provide health care to more than nine million children beginning to run out in some states, the Republicans are scheming to use the CHIP program as a bargaining wedge to get Congressional Democrats and some Republicans to fund the U.S.government beyond the looming deadline on Friday when it could shut down.
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For the past two decades CHIP – the Children’s Health Insurance Program – had bipartisan support and provided health care to children and pregnant women in families who can’t afford private insurance but do not qualify for Medicaid, until Trump and the Republicans took over last year.
Under Trump, the CHIP program funding suddenly was seen as a luxury, and allocations dried up. After an outcry, in December the Congress allocated just over $2 billion that was supposed to keep the CHIP program alive at last until the end of March.
“Today, 108 days after CHIP formally expired,” Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass) wrote in an op-ed for Cosmopolitan this week, “millions of children and their parents once again woke up wondering how much longer they would have health insurance and access to the medical care they need.”
Kennedy, the grand nephew of the late Senator Ted Kennedy who helped establish the CHIP program, points out how effective it has been, lowering the number of uninsured children from 14 percent in 1997 to under five percent today.
“This success fortified bipartisan support for the program and ensured it reflected something more powerful than our divided politics,” writes Rep. Kennedy, “CHIP was a demonstration of our collective decency.”
“This is what makes the refusal of Republican leaders in the White House and Congress to prioritize a full reauthorization of CHIP all the more devastating.”
It gets worse. When the Republicans killed portions of the Affordable Health Care plan under their bizarre give-to-the-rich tax legislation in December, it jacked up the cost of operating CHIP for families who previously had benefited from ObamaCare.
Now, many states are running out of money to care for these children and pregnant women, some as soon as the end of this month.
Funding the government in the meanwhile has become complicated by everything from Republican’s who want to greatly increase defense spending to questions around immigration and the DACA “dreamers” program, especially after the president blew off a compromise between the two parties at an event which is now infamous for his complaint about letting people form “shithole counties” emigrate to America.
With the deadline to shut down the government now less than three days away, Republican Speaker Paul Ryan put forth a proposal last night that would fund U.S. operations for another month, delay some of the Affordable Care Act changes.and fund the CHIP program for the next six years.
ALERT: House Republicans are now taking CHIP hostage by adding it to a funding bill without DACA. CHIP could easily pass separately, but they're playing kids against Dreamers.
— Topher Spiro (@TopherSpiro) January 16, 2018
For a Congress looking to add $100 billion to the defense budget, the CHIP program is small change.
“As the clock runs out on funding for children’s insurance,” reports The Daily Beast, “the Congressional Budget Office Friday estimated that a five-year reauthorization would only increase the deficit by $800 million between 2018 and 2027.
Ryan’s last-minute CHIP funding compromise is intended to get some Democrats to vote for the compromise, and delays in when the ACA cuts go into effect is supposed to placate some Republican Conservatives.
No more holding #Dreamers’ futures hostage. No more delayed funding for Community Health Centers. No more parents wondering if #CHIP will be there to cover their kids. Congress must do the right thing and pass bipartisan solutions to these problems. https://t.co/ySwGCFzmKv
— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) January 17, 2018
Still, not all are pleased.
“Conservatives don’t love this bill because it doesn’t include as much defense spending as they wanted,” reports Axios; “Democrats largely don’t like it because it would only last a month and doesn’t include an immigration deal.”
So thanks to Trump’s short-sighted, tight-fisted, immoral approach to budgeting the social and health needs of Americans – while spending more on military than any country on the planet – the CHIP program has become nothing more than a bargaining chip.
I’ve always been on team #FightClub. I won’t vote for a CR until we get a clean Dream Act, CHIP funding and relief for Puerto Rico.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) January 17, 2018
It is disgusting that Trump cannot work with both parties, cannot show compassion, cannot carry on the bipartisan tradition of 20 years of his predecessors from both parties, but as we have learned, his dysfunctional administration reflects his own bipolar behavior.
let’s be clear that Republicans could have put up a cleaner CHIP bill at any time over the last four months and it would have passed
they *are* now using CHIP as leverage in the shutdown talks
this is not, like, up for debate
— Dylan Scott (@dylanlscott) January 17, 2018
That is a huge problem for all Americans and a potential death warrant for nine million children and their parents. That is just not right.
As Rep. Kennedy puts it, what Trump and the Republicans are doing as it regards CHIP is “an abdication of a collective moral duty.”
You can say that about a lot of what they do.