It’s day 81 since the Children’s Health Insurance Program funding expired, and if you can take Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) word on it it won’t be funded this week. In negotiating a delay in their Obamacare stabilization bills (surprise!) apparently they also negotiated away immediate action on CHIP and community health centers. That’s health care for roughly 35 million people.
Instead, we will offer [our legislation] after the first of the year when the Senate will consider the omnibus spending bill, the Children’s Health Insurance Program reauthorization, funding for Community Health Centers, and other legislation that was to have been enacted this week.
Meanwhile, parents around the country are getting Christmas letters saying their kids’ health care is gone.
Kristy Kirkpatrick Johnson is a 32-year-old stay-at-home mom in Brewton, Alabama, with two small kids and an impending medical crisis.
Her son, Thomas, needs EpiPens for his nut allergies and they aren’t cheap. Without insurance, the pens cost $1,500. Her husband Parker, the family’s sole breadwinner, is the pastor of the local First Presbyterian Church. The family was spending roughly $800 a month for insurance before her daughter, Elizabeth Ann, was born. […]
“[CHIP]’s just been a huge blessing to our family,” Johnson told The Daily Beast in the middle of preparing for a large dinner gathering at their home on Tuesday night. “We just feel that the Lord has really provided for us through All Kids.”
But that break is now perilously close to ending. Alabama officials have announced that, just three days after Christmas, thousands of families could face the news that their children will be denied CHIP coverage unless Congress intervenes. A month after that, families like the Johnsons may lose their current coverage altogether.
“We don’t really know what that means for our kids,” Johnson said. “It kind of makes you nervous.”
Maybe Collins and Alexander can subsidize Thomas’s EpiPens for the time being. Maybe those 14 senators who are getting their #CorkerKickback next year can kick in a few bucks. But the problem is, there’s 9 million kids in the same boat as Thomas. And there are the 25+ million people who can only get care at community health centers.
None of them matter. Their lives don’t rise to the level of mattering to Republicans because there is nothing in looking out for them for Republicans. That has never been more clear than it is this week, when Republicans voted—three times—to make the rich a whole lot richer.
Jam the phone lines of House and Senate Republicans. Call (202) 224-3121, and tell them to stop holding kids hostage and to pass a clean funding bill for CHIP and community health centers.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.