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.

***

Reposted from Our Future

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

Union Matters

Freight can’t wait

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities.

A freight train hauling lumber and nylon manufacturing chemicals derailed, caught fire and caused a 108-year-old bridge to collapse in Tempe, Ariz., this week, in the second accident on the same bridge within a month.

The bridge was damaged after the first incident, according to Union Pacific railroad that owns the rail bridge, and re-opened two days later. 

The official cause of the derailments is still under investigation, but it remains clear that the failure to modernize and maintain America’s railroad infrastructure is dangerous. 

In 2019, 499 trains that derailed were found to have defective or broken track, roadbed or structures, according to the Federal Railroad Administration’s database of safety analysis.

While railroad workers’ unions have called for increased safety improvements, rail companies have also used technology and automation as an excuse to downsize their work forces.

For example, rail companies have implemented a cost-saving measure known as Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR), which has resulted in mass layoffs and shoddy safety protocols. 

Though privately-owned railroads have spent significantly to upgrade large, Class I trains, regional Class II trains and local, short-line Class III trains that carry important goods for farmers and businesses still rely on state and local funds for improvements. 

But cash-strapped states struggle to adequately inspect new technologies and fund safety improvements, and repairing or replacing the aging track and rail bridges will require significant public investment.

A true infrastructure commitment will not only strengthen the country’s railroad networks and increase U.S. global economic competitiveness. It will also create millions of family-sustaining jobs needed to inspect, repair and manufacture new parts for mass transit systems, all while helping to prevent future disasters.

More ...

There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work