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

An Invitation to Sunny Miami. What Could Be Bad?

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

If a billionaire “invites” you somewhere, you’d better go. Or be prepared to suffer the consequences. This past May, hedge fund kingpin Carl Icahn announced in a letter to his New York-based staff of about 50 that he would be moving his business operations to Florida. But the 83-year-old Icahn assured his staffers they had no reason to worry: “My employees have always been very important to the company, so I’d like to invite you all to join me in Miami.” Those who go south, his letter added, would get a $50,000 relocation benefit “once you have established your permanent residence in Florida.” Those who stay put, the letter continued, can file for state unemployment benefits, a $450 weekly maximum that “you can receive for a total of 26 weeks.” What about severance from Icahn Enterprises? The New York Post reported last week that the two dozen employees who have chosen not to uproot their families and follow Icahn to Florida “will be let go without any severance” when the billionaire shutters his New York offices this coming March. Bloomberg currently puts Carl Icahn’s net worth at $20.5 billion.

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