The GOP has a problem with paying for kids’ basic care

Rebekah Entralgo

Rebekah Entralgo Reporter, ThinkProgress

Fifty-six days after Congress failed to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), some American children are at risk of losing their health insurance. The deadline to renew the program’s funding was Sept. 30, and Congress hasn’t granted the program $15 billion to continue.

As a result, the popular state-level insurance program for low-income children and pregnant women is facing a funding cliff. While some states may be able to keep the program going through some of next year, half a dozen are projected to run out of funding by late December or early January.

It takes time to make program changes and alert families they’ll be left in the lurch, so states are starting to take action now. States closest to the funding cliff are preparing to warn customers that funding might disappear, leaving kids in the lurch. There are a few options for those families who rely on CHIP once the funding disappears.

States decide if those families could be enrolled in Medicaid or covered through Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace offerings. But Republicans — Trump in the executive and members of his party in Congress and at the state level — have tried hard block access to both of those alternatives, by sabotaging Obamacare, eliminating support for enrollment, blocking Medicaid expansion, etc.

The program has historically enjoyed bipartisan support, but Republicans, in control of both chambers of Congress and steering a massive tax bill through a lightning-fast approval process, are now unable to the program the funds it needs to survive.

Presumably, this isn’t a question of means: At the center of both House and Senate Republicans’ tax bills is a giant, unnecessary tax cut for corporations: a 20 percent corporate tax cut at a price tag of nearly $1.5 trillion dollars. The Senate has decided one way its bill will raise enough money to fund this is by repealing the ACA’s individual mandate provision, a move that would leave nearly 13 million Americans uninsured.

Trump’s tax proposal would sharply reduce the federal government’s ability to match state funds (the ACA expanded matching) and would cut billions from CHIP’s funding.

“I am working with my colleagues to advance this bill in a fiscally responsible manner so we can ensure coverage is maintained,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in a recent statement. Hatch sits on the Senate Finance Committee and was among the primary authors of both the tax legislation and the original CHIP legislation.

During a heated exchange with Sen. Sherrod Brown over the facts of the GOP tax plan, Brown highlighted that it doesn’t include any funding for CHIP, and any tax plan that truly wasn’t geared towards wealthy individuals would include that funding.

Hatch replied sharply, “I’m not starting with CHIP.”

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Reposted from Think Progress

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Failing Bridges Hold Public Hostage

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.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) gave the public just a few hours’ notice before closing a major bridge in March, citing significant safety concerns.

The West Seattle Bridge functioned as an essential component of  the city’s local and regional transportation network, carrying 125,000 travelers a day while serving Seattle’s critical maritime and freight industries. Closing it was a huge blow to the city and its citizens. 

Yet neither Seattle’s struggle with bridge maintenance nor the inconvenience now facing the city’s motorists is unusual. Decades of neglect left bridges across the country crumbling or near collapse, requiring a massive investment to keep traffic flowing safely.

When they opened it in 1984, officials predicted the West Seattle Bridge would last 75 years.

But in 2013, cracks started appearing in the center span’s box girders, the main horizontal support beams below the roadway. These cracks spread 2 feet in a little more than two weeks, prompting the bridge’s closure.

And it’s still at risk of falling.  

The city set up an emergency alert system so those in the “fall zone” could be quickly evacuated if the bridge deteriorates to the point of collapse.

More than one-third of U.S. bridges similarly need repair work or replacement, a reminder of America’s urgent need to invest in long-ignored infrastructure.

Fixing or replacing America’s bridges wouldn’t just keep Americans moving. It would also provide millions of family-supporting jobs for steel and cement workers, while also boosting the building trades and other industries.

With bridges across the country close to failure and millions unemployed, America needs a major infrastructure campaign now more than ever.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work