Unless GOP-led Congress Acts, Texas Children Risk Losing Healthcare Next Month

As President Trump eggs them on, Republicans in the United States Congress are racing towards their own self-imposed finish line at historic speed.  Desperate for a major legislative accomplishment, they are clearing every possible hurdle to pass a massive, omnibus, and until last Friday afternoon, mysterious tax bill which will have major implications for generations of American citizens.  To give you an idea of the speed with which this legislative “process”  has occurred, the first actual bill was introduced in the US House on November 2nd, 2017– just 48 days ago.

But while Republicans have put all of their eggs into one HUGE “Tax Reform” basket, millions of American families have been left to worry and wait.  In a few short weeks, Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program will begin to run out across the country, leaving real kids and families without the ability to pay for life-saving medications, doctor’s visits and medical procedures.  While every state is set to run out of funding by July of next year, children in Texas are at risk of losing their funding by the end of January.  Here’s more from Sam Petulla of CNN

Sixteen states will run out of federal funding for CHIP — the Children’s Health Insurance Program — by the end of January, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Three-quarters of all states expect to exhaust funds by the end of March unless Congress can agree to fund it. (Scroll to the bottom for the full list.)

CHIP provides health insurance coverage for just shy of nine million children whose families have too much income to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford the cost of insurance. It is increasingly used by families whose employer-provided insurance is too expensive. CHIP is provided for free or the program’s premiums are pegged to an amount based on a family’s annual income.
CHIP has come into the news lately because Congress has not yet reauthorized its funding mechanism and, as a result, states are running out of money. Once the money runs out, potentially hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of low-income kids could lose their health insurance. That could be a dire situation for some families.
Low and middle income kids like the ones in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.   As Santiago Caicedo of KGBT News- Valley Central.com reports, Texas has a plan in place to cover additional funding, but it won’t last very long…

By the end of Feb. 2018, 400,000 children in the state of Texas could be without government subsidized health insurance through the Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as CHIP.

“You have counties along the Texas-Mexico border where three quarters of the children are enrolled in either Medicaid or CHIP,” said Anne Dunkelberg, Associate Director for Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities.

[…]

In the meantime, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is giving Texas $135 million to continue the program through February. After that, CHIP will no longer receive funding from the federal government.

“The alternative is, do we pay bills, our gas, our light, or do we buy medication?” said Diana Martínez from McAllen.

Amazingly enough, the whole situation has been surprisingly quiet on Capitol Hill, with Republican leaders continuing to assure the press that the funding will be renewed, and Democrats, understandably, hesitant to make this a political issue.  Healthcare for our nation’s kids should never be political.
But at some point, we have to state the obvious.  If everyone is so confident that this is going to get done, then why hasn’t it already been done?  And WHY does something like a Tax bill take precedence over the health and safety of families?? The inauguration was held on January 20th.  This could’ve been passed long before December.  Should American families be worried that one of their top priorities continues to languish at the wayside, while Congressional leaders hoist all of their strength into tax cuts??
For the children of Texas, the choice is crystal clear.  Maybe Congress needs to reconsider its priorities, and put our children first.  

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