As Republicans Pushed Trumpcare, GOP Led Congress Let Health Care for 9 Million Kids Expire

As Republicans Pushed Trumpcare, GOP Led Congress Let Health Care for 9 Million Kids Expire

Republicans Let CHIP Funding Expire Because Of Focus On Repeal And Replace Of Obamacare

Republicans in Congress have been laser-focused on repealing and replacing Obamacare since the law was passed in 2010. Their latest effort, known as the Graham-Cassidy plan, died as soon as Republican Senators like John McCain and Susan Collins announced their opposition.

But, despite the fact their plans would have taken health coverage away from millions, their obsession with trying to pass the terrible bill has led to a potential catastrophe for millions of children. It seems that as of Saturday, September 30, the funding for the decades-old Children’s Health Insurance Program has not been renewed by Congress.

And why exactly did the Republican-led government not renew the program? According to multiple outlets, their negotiating of the Graham-Cassidy plan took up time needed to shore up funding for the CHIP program.

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Vox reported a bipartisan solution was ready to be discussed weeks ago, but the push to repeal and replace “sidelined” renewing CHIP. According to the news outlet, the bipartisan bill from Republican Orrin Hatch and Democrat Ron Wyden would:

  • Extend CHIP’s funding for five years, a big win for advocates who wanted a long-term extension
  • Maintain Obamacare’s enhanced CHIP federal funding for two more years and then start to phase it down to traditional levels. The 2010 law boosted the federal share by 23 percent — advocates knew that was unlikely to continue indefinitely but wanted a gradual phaseout to make sure states could adjust.

As of now, the program is not permanent and has usually received two-year renewals, with the last coming in 2015.

Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times also noted the Graham-Cassidy discussions drowned out the call to renew CHIP.

Agreement on a bill had been reached in mid-September by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). “Momentum was building,” says Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, a children’s advocacy group in Washington. Then came Cassidy-Graham, and “we couldn’t even get a meeting,” Lesley says. “No one was even taking our calls.”

Hiltzik additionally notes recently ousted HHS Secretary Tom Price was no fan of the program and had voted against it twice as a member of Congress. He clearly had no interest in championing the renewal as head of the Health and Human Services Department.

The Washington Post points out the program covers roughly 9 million children and has successfully gotten a staggering number of children health coverage since its passage in 1997. The uninsured rate among children plummeted from around 14 percent at the time of creation to just 4.5 percent in 2015.

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While funding for CHIP will not run out immediately across the country, Congress does not have long to act. Some states are expected to run out of money for the program by the end of the year, some sooner. Hiltzik states:

Half the states won’t make it beyond the first three months of 2018. Some will run out of money next week.

Now that Republicans have fallen on their faces in their attempt to take health coverage away from millions of people in the years to come, maybe they can deal with the fact that millions of children will lose health coverage in the months to come.

Featured image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.