POLITICS
09/19/2013 01:33 pm ET | Updated Sep 19, 2013

GOP Obamacare Defunding Bill Would Gut Children's Health Insurance Program

A House Republican proposal to defund the Affordable Care Act would also devastate a program that insured over 8 million moderate-income children this year, Democrats said on Thursday.

Under the government funding bill proposed by the House -- which includes Rep. Steve Scalise's (R-La.) amendment defunding Obamacare -- the Children's Health Insurance Program would lose about $13.3 billion dollars, or 70 percent of its funding, on October 1. CHIP provides health insurance coverage to children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but still cannot afford private coverage. The program was set to expire at the end of this month, but the Affordable Care Act reauthorized and funded it through 2015.

"The Republicans’ newest plan to defund the Affordable Care Act would decimate a program that for nearly sixteen years has served millions of children," Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce committee, said in a statement. "In the Republicans’ outrageous attempt to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, they are taking healthcare away from children. They have sunk to a new low."

Bruce Lesley, president of the First Focus Campaign for Children, told HuffPost in an interview that the funding cuts could ultimately end the CHIP program altogether.

"What would end up happening is that states would start to immediately slow down coverage, and then by Christmas or so the whole program would have to shut down," Lesley said. "For some of those kids, the family might figure out a way to get them employer coverage or individual market coverage. But we're talking about low-income families, so many of those kids would lose health care coverage altogether."

Scalise's amendment rescinds "any funds" that the ACA provides for such programs. He told HuffPost in a statement that Democrats can no longer hold "hostage" good programs like CHIP in order to protect the Affordable Care Act.

“Many longstanding and successful programs were impacted by the Affordable Care Act and we look forward to working with the Senate and the White House to ensure that those programs have a smooth transition as we protect American families from the devastation of the President’s train-wreck of a health care law," Scalise said. "Programs such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) should not be held hostage by the Administration and Congressional Democrats to protect the taxes and mandates in the Affordable Care Act that are raising health costs and killing jobs.”

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