Tell Congress to stop playing politics with 120,000 Michigan kids’ healthcare

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The federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) extends health insurance to children in families with low and moderate incomes that may not be eligible for Medicaid. Congress allowed continued funding for CHIP to expire on Sept. 30, 2017, and healthcare for 120,000 Michigan kids and nine million children nationwide now hangs in the balance.

Children and pregnant women in Michigan rely on CHIP for:

  • Preventive health checkups;
  • Immunizations;
  • Emergency services;
  • Lab work and x-rays;
  • Dental, vision, hearing and speech care, and more.

The delay on renewing funding for CHIP is hurting Flint kids in particular.

In the midst of the Flint water crisis, the Michigan Legislature expanded CHIP for affected children with family incomes between 212-400% of the federal poverty level and devoted funding to removing lead hazards from homes. Healthcare for regular checkups and developmental monitoring is vital to counteracting the awful effects of lead exposure on kids, but this program can’t be expanded to help more Flint kids if it’s not funded.

Since its creation, CHIP has repeatedly had bipartisan and nearly unanimous support.

Funding extensions for CHIP were passed in 2009, 2010 and 2015 by overwhelming margins. The program’s support has never been dependent on who was in the White House or had the majorities in the U.S. House and Senate, and it shouldn’t be now.

But Republicans in Congress are disregarding two decades of universal support for CHIP and instead choosing to politicize children’s healthcare needs.

While CHIP funding for nine million kids has dried up, Congress has instead been focused on a federal tax plan that gives big tax breaks to millionaires. In addition, as part of renewing CHIP, some representatives have pushed to add language on repealing parts of the Affordable Care Act, cuts to Medicaid, provisions related to abstinence-only sex education, and changes to health-insurer taxes.

Time and money are running out. Michigan is expected to exhaust CHIP funding by April 2018.

As of Oct. 31, five states (Minnesota, Arizona, Washington, California and Oregon) have already run out of funding for their CHIP programs. At this time, CHIP funding in Michigan will likely run out by April or May of 2018. That leaves Congress with less than six months to save healthcare for 120,000 kids.

Michigan kids are too important for Congress to be playing politics with their healthcare. Federal lawmakers should not delay in reauthorizing CHIP, and they should do so cleanly without any political catches or conditions.

Contact your members of Congress today and tell them to act now to reauthorize CHIP.


Tell Us Your Story:

These letters to Congress help, but nothing is more powerful than a personal story. As Congress continues to delay renewing funding for CHIP, we're collecting stories of what that will mean for Michigan families and kids. If you or someone you know have a child enrolled in MIChild, Michigan's program for implementing the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), please share your story online or email us at michleague@gmail.com so we can make these kids’ voices heard.

For More Information on CHIP and Its Impact on Michigan Kids:

Michigan League for Public Policy Fact Sheet: Clean Reauthorization of Federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Needed NOW

Associated Press: 116,000 Low-Income Michigan Kids May Lose Health Insurance

Bridge Magazine: CHIP Health Funding for Michigan Children in Jeopardy

Detroit Free Press: Washington's So Dysfunctional It's Rolling the Dice with Children's Health Care

Detroit News: Doctor: Senate Funding Delay Risks Flint Lead Recovery