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Congress Drops the Ball on 9 Million Kids & Their Health Insurance

There is so much going on in the news right now about Congress’ recent jockeying to smash and replace Obamacare (the failed Graham-Cassidy plan) that many are unaware another health insurance program of major importance is at grave risk of being completely demolished.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program’s budget has expired as of Sept. 30. If you’re not familiar with CHIP, the program provides low-cost health insurance to 9 million children in the United States — children whose families earn too much to be eligible for Medicaid — as well as pregnant women in some states, according to the website. CHIP’s safety net is huge, covering kids for immunizations, checkups, emergency care and other preventative health care. If CHIP is allowed to die, children formerly under this program will have zero affordable options to see a doctor.

Joan Alker, the executive director of Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families told the press, “We have never had a situation like this before.”

The media is paying attention, even if the Congress is not.

The Los Angeles Times reported that there is no vote scheduled for at least a week to reinstate the $15 billion funding. This could be catastrophic for many families, as CHIP has managed to almost eliminate the possibility of children going without health insurance — an amazing feat in the U.S.

More: Don’t Ignore These 8 Signs That Your Baby May Be Sick

So what happens now? If Congress acts and restores CHIP’s funding, it would be extended for five years. If not, some states will manage to keep CHIP in place just barely for a few months, but beyond that, most CHIP kids will ultimately become uninsured. As of now, a few states are particularly at risk: Arizona, North Carolina, the District of Columbia and Minnesota could run out of CHIP funding by December.

Sahil Kapur, a political reporter for Bloomberg News, tweeted this map showing how soon funding for CHIP could run out for each state.

If CHIP gets its funding back, it would be extended for five years — but the program could run out as soon as December in states like including Arizona, Minnesota, and North Carolina and the District of Columbia. State officials have begun sending out notifications letting CHIP enrollees know that their coverage has lapsed.

Michael Hiltzik, reporter for the LA Times, wrote, “Is there any more poignant example of how Congress’ wasteful partisanship affects ordinary Americans? It’s hard to imagine one. If the lawmakers can’t act in support of a program that was enacted in a spirit of bipartisanship and serves the most truly defenseless members of society, there’s no hope for them.”

More: Hey America! This Is What Health Care Should Look Like

So, if you care about 9 million kids losing their health care, it’s time to get on the phone (again) with your elected officials and lawmakers.

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