Millions of Lives at Risk as GOP Lets CHIP Expire

LeeAnn Hall Co-Director, People's Action

Nine million children in this country are at the brink of losing health coverage. What do our lawmakers say about this? Not a damn word. Why? Because they care more about themselves than our children, and our country’s future. But if they won’t speak up, we will.

On Saturday, Congress allowed CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, to expire. CHIP is a partnership between states and the federal government that since 1997 has extended health care to millions who would otherwise have no access to care.

As an organizer in rural Idaho in the nineties, I saw with my own eyes the difference CHIP makes in the lives of ordinary people. Thousands of children and expectant mothers in our state got access, many for the first time, to everything from checkups and healthy care to treatments for chronic asthma and cancer.

The benefits of CHIP are profound, and have a ripple effect. By ensuring adequate care, CHIP eliminates a major factor that keeps children from attending and excelling at school, and thriving in our society.

So why would Congress let a program like CHIP, which has proven its ability to make such a difference in so many lives, expire? As recently as a few weeks ago, GOP lawmakers celebrated CHIP’s achievements, swore to support it and even held it up as an example of a successful partnership between the federal government and states.

But as soon as they revived their dream of a health repeal that would gut Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act and score a legislative victory, they rushed out of the room, and abandoned CHIP. As a result, nine million lives now hang in the balance.

Some states, like Nevada, Minnesota and Utah, are already running out of funds to pay for this vital program. Dozens more will hang on through the end of the year only by cutting funds out of other essential programs to keep coverage in place.

Now, some lawmakers say they might support a temporary extension of CHIP, but only if the funds come from backdoor cuts of billions to Medicaid, the ACA and to seniors.

This is outrageous. Our health is not a zero-sum game, and shouldn’t even be up for debate: you don’t play politics with peoples’s lives.

Lawmakers must remember that the measure of our society, and how they will be judged by voters, is by how well we defend the rights of those who can least defend themselves.

Support for CHIP and other lifesaving programs should be permanent, and never become a political football. Indeed, we should – and can – extend health care to all, and ultimately, we will. But first, let’s tell our lawmakers to save CHIP now.

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Reposted from Our Future

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Campaign for America's Future

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work