Statement by Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates
In mid-September, it looked like a sure win for America’s kids when it came to health care. The Hatch/Wyden bill had passed out of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, and it looked as if kids across the commonwealth and the country would be covered as funding of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was extended.
But somewhere and somehow CHIP got lost in the D.C. shuffle and Congress failed to fund that important kid measure by its Saturday deadline. I get it. Washington D.C. is filled with partisan toxicity and ambiguity when it comes to the repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act and an array of related battles. However, kids should not pay the price for partisan politics.
CHIP represents a bipartisan effort in its creation and a bipartisan approach in its track record of effective implementation. CHIP means affordable health insurance for nearly 100,000 Kentucky children with working parents who are struggling to make ends meet. It means kids can visit their pediatrician for a well-child visit and necessary immunizations. It also means kids can have access to needed dental care and mental health services. When kids are healthy, they can attend school and be ready to learn.
Because of the missed September 30th deadline, kids now need a bipartisan push to ensure CHIP funding is extended. Though leaders in Washington may assert that states should shoulder this vital coverage for children, the federal government cannot expect an already strapped state budget to absorb the costs of the program. And Washington cannot turn its back to the families counting on CHIP to ensure better health outcomes for their sons and daughters.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has a track record of standing tall for kids. We need him to protect CHIP – and our kids – from being a casualty in the never-ending Washington D.C. health care debate. Congress must extend CHIP funding with declarative and immediate action!