Other viewpoints: Congress is failing America's sick children

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley

CHIP, a federal-state matching program that serves almost nine million moderately low-income children, is among the urgent priorities that seem to have gotten lost amid congressional efforts to repeal Obamacare and revise the tax code.

The program ensures low-priced medical coverage for children whose parents earn too much income to qualify for Medicaid.

30, but states have had unspent money in the interim, and Congress. The internal estimate comes just a few days after the agency reported publicly that it had slashed its estimate of how much it would cost the government to renew CHIP for five years-from $8 billion to around $800 million-following Republicans' move to repeal the individual mandate as part of a tax overhaul. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) said he plans to bring a six-year extension of CHIP to the floor for a vote next week.

ALL Kids, the Alabama program funded through CHIP, warned late a year ago that it would have to stop enrolling children into the program on January 1 and may run out of funding by February 1. But officials say some states could start running out of money as early as next week. The delay in reauthorizing CHIP has confused children's health advocates because both parties have supported CHIP since its creation in 1997. Together, Medicaid and CHIP cover about 45 percent of all children in the state.

Had that accident happened this year, though, Natali, 50, of Aliquippa, Pa., might be scrambling.

"I don't want to be jumping for joy, but as a result of this terrible policy, CBO now says that CHIP will cost significantly less - and that over a decade, it will produce a net savings", Pallone says. She can not afford private coverage for her two children on her dental hygienist pay. Republicans proposed a series of deeply partisan spending cuts to cover the costs of extending CHIP, such as slashing Obamacare programs and Medicare.


Dr. Todd Wolynn, a Pittsburgh pediatrician, said families are reacting with "fear and disbelief" to CHIP's uncertain future.

Pennsylvania officials notified CHIP providers in late December - who then informed enrollees - that the state would have to end the program in March unless Congress acts. "They might not have a family physician, or a clear support system".

Families across America had to start 2018 anxious that their kids wouldn't have health care.

Last month's temporary budget fix, H.R. 1370, also provided $550 million for community health centers that serve more than 25 million, many in struggling communities - enough to last only through March 31.

Ariel Haughton of Pittsburgh said she's upset her federal lawmakers have left CHIP in flux for her two children and millions of kids around the country.

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