With one out of four U.S. children on the brink of hunger, more than 1.5 million children homeless, and the children's share of the federal budget diminished by a quarter since 1960 , I wouldn't be surprised if the next time a member of Congress goes to kiss a baby, what he or she gets instead is a big fat raspberry.
And now in another blow to kids, some children could actually end up worse under health reform than they are now. Must we dress our kids in pin-stripped suits in order to get their interests represented?
Under the current Senate health bill, most of the 7 million children currently covered by the popular and successful Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) would be moved to the new insurance exchanges created by health reform. The result? A recent study by First Focus finds that children moving from CHIP to the exchange plans would dramatically increase out-of-pocket expenses for their families. For example, the First Focus study estimates that out-of-pocket costs for a child living in a family earning 225 percent of the Federal poverty level would increase by 1,100 percent if the Senate were to join the House in repealing CHIP.
Why is this important? Too many women, children, and families are struggling with meeting children's basic needs for a healthy start like access to doctors' appointments. We know that when families are financially on the edge, an increase in health care costs can greatly reduce access to care. Preventive care and early intervention are crucial for addressing children's health issues -- and save money for all of us in the long run.
Earlier this month, Senator Casey introduced an amendment to the Senate health bill that will make sure the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) continues with full funding through fiscal year 2019. This funding is critical because it would allow CHIP to continue until we have concrete assurances that children's coverage in the new health insurance exchange is comparable or better than what kids currently get through CHIP.
Health reform holds the promise of finally providing secure and stable healthcare for families. But, we must take action now to make sure that it doesn't inadvertently cause some kids to have more expensive and less comprehensive coverage than they have now.
MomsRising members are standing up for kids by sending letters to their Senators asking them to co-sponsor and/or support the Casey CHIP Amendment. http://momsrising.democracyinaction.org/o/1768/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=960
Health reform in the words of President Obama must, "fix what's broken and build on what works". The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) has demonstrated its ability to provide high quality healthcare that meets the needs of kids at a low cost. For our kids' sake, let's not throw the baby out with the bath water.
A Peaceful Revolution is a blog about innovative ideas to strengthen America's families through public policies, business practices, and cultural change. Done in collaboration with MomsRising.org, read a new post here each week.