Congress passed a tax break for the rich, but is not funding health insurance for poor kids

Nine million children are without health insurance because Congress hasn't funded CHIP since September

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published December 20, 2017 10:01AM (EST)

 (AP Photo/LM Otero)
(AP Photo/LM Otero)

States are starting to prepare low-income children for a world without health insurance, thanks to the actions of the Republican-controlled Congress.

Because Congress allowed the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to expire in September, states have had to use their own funds to pay for health insurance for low-income children. A government report projected that many states and the District of Columbia would lose CHIP funding by the end of 2017, with others losing it by March 2018. This will make it more difficult, if not impossible, for low-income children to receive regular checkups, immunizations, prescriptions, dental care, vision care, inpatient and outpatient hospital care and other necessary medical services.

In 2016, CHIP cost the government $13.6 billion. By contrast, the new tax reform bill costs $1.5 trillion. Now the effects of the program's expiration are beginning to be seen in individual states.

"Unfortunately, federal funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), known in Connecticut as HUSKY B, ended on September 30, 2017, because Congress failed to take action to extend the program," explained Connecticut's website on the CHIP program. "Connecticut has been able to continue offering HUSKY B beyond that date by using leftover federal funding. However, these funds are expected to run out on January 31, 2018."

Colorado released a similar statement in November, one that likewise declared that they will have to end their CHIP program if federal funds are not renewed on January 31, 2018. Alabama announced last week that it would stop enrolling children on January 1, 2018 and would end the program on February 1, 2018.

The $1.5 trillion tax cut that Republicans passed on Tuesday will also worsen the health care situation for millions of Americans. The repeal of the Obamacare coverage mandate will cause roughly 13 million people to abandon their current health insurance policies, in turn prompting insurers to raise their premiums by 10 percent annually, and it will apply automatic spending cuts to Medicare and food stamps.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. His diverse interests are reflected in his interview, including: President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, inventor Ernő Rubik, comedian Bill Burr ("F Is for Family"), novelist James Patterson ("The President's Daughter"), epidemiologist Monica Gandhi, theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, voice actor Rob Paulsen ("Animaniacs"), mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, philosopher of science Vinciane Despret, actor George Takei ("Star Trek"), climatologist Michael E. Mann, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (2013-present), dog cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (2012, 2016), comedian and writer Larry Charles ("Seinfeld"), Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (2000), Ambassador Michael McFaul (2012-2014), economist Richard Wolff, director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI"), model Liskula Cohen, actor Rodger Bumpass ("SpongeBob Squarepants"), Senator John Hickenlooper (2021-present), Senator Martin Heinrich (2013-present), Egyptologist Richard Parkinson, Rep. Eric Swalwell (2013-present), media entrepreneur Dan Abrams, actor R. J. Mitte ("Breaking Bad"), theoretical physicist Avi Loeb, biologist and genomics entrepreneur William Haseltine, comedian David Cross ("Scary Movie 2"), linguistics consultant Paul Frommer ("Avatar"), Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (2007-2015), computer engineer and Internet co-inventor Leonard Kleinrock and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.

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