Voters prioritize CHIP; GOP Congress not so much | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Voters prioritize CHIP; GOP Congress not so much

Posted By on Tue, Jan 2, 2018 at 11:08 AM

It has now been three months since the federal government allowed funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) — which provides health coverage for 9 million lower-income children, including 400,000 kids who are covered by ARKids — to lapse.

Thus far no state has had to stop services because of emergency stopgap funding. Alabama was set to freeze enrollment because of the funding lapse, but temporary funds provided by Congress in December have bought the state three to four more weeks. Other states are preparing to notify families that their children could be in danger of losing CHIP coverage. Without a funding re-authorization, programs in most states project to run out of funds in the next month or two; ARKids would be projected to run dry in June.

It's easy for substantive issues to get lost in the shuffle as the drama queen in chief vamps across the public stage, full of sound and fury, bloviating nothing. But this December poll from Politico and Harvard caught my eye: When given a list of 15 domestic policy issues identified in the media as potential areas on which Congress could take action this year, the top priority was renewing CHIP funding:

click to enlarge chip_poll.png

Will Congress listen? Thus far, re-authorization of long-term funding has been at a standstill because Republicans insist the nation can't afford to fund CHIP unless other social services are cut — at the same time that they devoted all of their energies last month to ramming through a tax cut that will add at least a trillion dollars to the national debt. It's a scandal. Most observers are expecting that action will finally be taken this month, but that's what they said last month. Perhaps worth noting that Doug Jones, the newly elected senator from Alabama, made re-authorizing CHIP a signature campaign issue. Any Democrat running for office should be raising hell on this issue. Health insurance for millions of children hangs in the balance.

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