Tell Congress to protect children’s health – we must save CHIP

January 10, 2018
by Kali Daugherty

When my son Sebastian turned three, he was diagnosed with autism. I had always known there something was different about my sweet boy, but no one – including the countless doctors and therapists I took him to see — could ever say exactly what it was.

Finally getting that diagnosis was painful in some ways, but it also meant we could start to turn things around for Sebastian. He needed intensive therapy, about 40 hours per week, and I was committed to making sure he got it. But I was unprepared for the jaw-dropping price tag: $3,000 per month. This was simply impossible for us. At the time, I earned slightly too much to qualify for Medicaid, but there was another option: the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP.

CHIP, which has a long history of bipartisan support, covers nearly nine million kids and pregnant women at low or no cost. Because of CHIP, Sebastian has been able to get the care and treatment he needs. Today, he is a thriving 5-year-old.

But CHIP is in danger. Funding officially expired in September, but Congress has yet to reauthorize the program. While lawmakers approved temporary stop-gap measures, some states could run out of money as soon as January 19.

We can’t let this happen. Parents shouldn’t be forced into debt or bankruptcy just so their kids can get the care they need. No child should go without care simply because it’s too expensive. And families shouldn’t be left in this agonizing limbo, not knowing if a child’s life-saving treatment or medication will continue to be covered.

Nearly half of all young children rely on Medicaid and CHIP coverage for health care support. Congress needs to do its job – right now – and stop using kids as political pawns.

Call your members of Congress at (877) 233-9025 and ask them to reauthorize CHIP and fully fund it for five years.

Every child deserves the chance to grow up healthy. If Congress can pass massive tax cuts for the rich, surely they can find a way to reauthorize CHIP and protect kids like Sebastian. Let’s hold them accountable and make sure they do.

Kali Daugherty is a RESULTS advocate and Expert on Poverty. She lives in Milwaukee.

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