Although it is rarely hyped, CHIP continues to have strong bipartisan support at the federal and state levels, including strong support from our nation's governors, as it quietly goes about the business of efficiently providing health coverage to over 8 million children in low-income working families across the country.
In the House and Senate budget proposals for fiscal year 2016, passed with only Republican votes at the end of March, there are big winners and big losers. The big winners are defense spending and contractors and very wealthy people and powerful special interests. The big losers are children, our poorest group in America, and struggling low- and middle-income families.
Congress must stop playing politics with children and pass four more years of funding for CHIP and MIECHV as part of the "doc fix" package if millions of children are not to be left with uncertainty and at greater risk. We need to ensure our children are healthy, supported, and strong if they are going to be able to support our growing number of seniors in the future.
Extending CHIP funding until 2019 could go a long way to sustain and expand CHIP-related gains for children as CHIP enrollment grows in conjunction with further implementation of the ACA. Extending CHIP funding, however, is only an interim measure. In the long run, it will require additional actions.
When I arrived in West Virginia as a VISTA worker, there were countless children in the community who'd never seen a doctor or a dentist. Their family just couldn't afford it. To get them the care they needed, I packed my Jeep with kids and drove them to their first dental appointment at a clinic in Charleston.