It has been 45 days since Congress let the CHIP program expire. 45 days in which Congress has failed to do their job, yet again. 45 days of fear for families that rely on this program.

A few CHIP facts:

  • CHIP was established in 1997 by a bipartisan group of legislators
  • Since CHIP was enacted, the uninsured rate for children under 18 has falled 68.7%!
  • CHIP provides high quality, cost-effective coverage for kids that fall into the gap between Medicaid coverage and affordable private coverage
  • CHIP is funded by both the state and federal government. Federal funding matters.
  • Families with kids on CHIP do pay premiums, the amounts are established based on income using a sliding scale.
  • Families with kids on CHIP do pay co-pays for doctor’s visits, medications, and other services.
  • About 9,000,000 kids get their insurance through CHIP, over a million of those kids are in Texas

There is no good reason that CHIP has not been renewed. It is a program that is both fiscally and socially responsible and has wide support from both parties. Back in 2007 when I was doing advocacy work here in Texas to try to establish a CHIP buy-in program, it had huge support from the business community. Something many people fail to understand is that uninsured people still get medical care, they just go to the hospital for it which results in much HIGHER costs and these bills often go unpaid. Medicaid picks up part of this slack via DSH payments (another reason Medicaid is so important to fund), and if that is insufficient, property taxes are often increased to cover the rest. So business owners understand that 9 million uninsured children and their hospital bills are MUCH more expensive than a cost-sharing program that provides lower cost preventative care that keeps these kids healthier. It is much more cost effective for a kid with the sniffles and a low grade fever to have clinic visit with their pediatrician than to be seen in the emergency room. CHIP allows that to happen. It keeps kids healthier and allows them to access the appropriate level of care as needed.

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Josie gets her healthcare through CHIP. She has a cardiology check next week, and if CHIP is not reauthorized, it may be her last for a while. $400+ just for the office visit would be difficult, and $3,000 or so for an echocardiogram and whatever other costs there are would be impossible. Hopefully, her heart will look great and we won’t be staring at another $100,000+ for an open heart surgery or other interventions. This matters in a very practical way to our family, and to the families of 9,000,000 other Americans kids. It can’t be written off as “politics” when your kid’s health hangs in the balance.

I know that there is a group of Americans who will always view helping someone else pay for anything, including healthcare, as “theft”. If you fall into that group, I have nothing to say that will sway you. You are not my intended audience. If you don’t understand that the healthcare system in America is broken and that the reason we need programs like CHIP to patch up some of the critically broken places, I probably haven’t said anything to move you to action either. But if you understand why programs like this are important and if you value programs that can manage to do this hugely important work while being fiscally responsible, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS.

Below is a script from 5calls, if you need a little help with what to say.

Hi, my name is [NAME] and I’m a constituent from [CITY].

I’m calling to urge [MEMBER OF CONGRESS] to advocate for a bipartisan approach to the immediate renewal of CHIP funding. Millions of children rely on this funding for insurance, and its reauthorization should not be used to score partisan victories like cuts to the ACA Prevention and Public Health Fund.

Thank you so much for your time.

[IF LEAVING A MESSAGE: Please leave full address to ensure your call is tallied.]

You can find your members of Congress and their contact info at 5calls, or at this link. THANK YOU!