While the Senate is spending its time on a bill to cut taxes for corporations that send jobs overseas, kids here in America are on the verge of losing their health insurance.
That’s because this fall, Congress allowed the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to expire. States are beginning to run out of money for CHIP and some are preparing to shut down the program, which nine million children, including more than 209,000 Ohio kids, rely on.
As soon as this week, families of young children in some states are going to get a letter in the mail bringing devastating news: their children are losing their health insurance.
These are families with working parents who aren’t lucky enough to work for companies that offer health insurance coverage for their entire family. Or they’re families with children who have special needs. CHIP helps provide access to specialty providers, so that sick kids are never faced with a situation where their family can’t afford the therapy or prescription drugs they need.
Last week, I spoke to Crystal, whose son Noble relies on CHIP to cover the five pediatric specialists he sees at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. She told me about how vital CHIP is to their family, and the opportunities for treatment it’s given Noble — opportunities they would never have been able to afford otherwise.
Ohio has been making plans to ensure that no kids in our state will lose coverage entirely — but if we don’t extend CHIP soon, the state will have to make impossible choices. Without federal funds, Ohio may have to cut reimbursements to pediatricians and children’s hospitals.
That means kids like Noble may no longer be able to see their regular doctors, or may have to wait longer for the care they need.
We have to get this over the finish line, and we have to do it now.
Let’s put politics aside, roll up our sleeves, and extend CHIP for Ohio families like Noble’s, who depend on it.
The writer is a U.S. senator from Ohio.