Despite GOP Dereliction, Warren Vows to Fight for Program That Insures 9 Million Kids

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Despite GOP Dereliction, Warren Vows to Fight for Program That Insures 9 Million Kids

While Congress delays, impoverished children and pregnant women nationwide will soon start losing access to necessary healthcare

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

In a video published Tuesday Oct. 10, 2017, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) vowed to fight for federal funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). (Photo: AFGE/Flickr/cc)

"September 30th was the deadline for a whole bunch of healthcare programs and the Republicans basically just blew through the deadlines," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in a video about a program that provides affordable healthcare to 9 million children and 370,000 pregnant women annually.

The senator published her video about the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to Twitter on Tuesday. Watch:

CHIP was established two decades ago and requires congressional approval of federal funding every few years. The program has historically garnered broad bipartisan support, and the Senate Finance Committee had reached a deal to reauthorize funding for five years in mid-September.

However, earlier this month, the Republican-controlled Congress missed the reauthorization deadline, leaving the program in limbo. As Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik wrote on the eve of the expiration, "congressional Republicans' last harebrained attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act got in the way."

"They said, 'Eh, we know the programs expired, at some point we'll come back. And in the meantime? Just let them go figure it out,'" Warren said, referring to challenges faced by states and community health centers that rely on funding from the U.S. government to continue operating.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) analysis, 11 states will likely run out of federal funds by the end of 2017, and a total of 32 states are expected to run out by the end of March 2018. Researchers also noted that "the majority of states" did not have contingency plans in place in case Congress failed to extend funding, and "some plan to close or cap enrollment and/or discontinue coverage for children in separate CHIP programs."

KFF projected dates of exhausted CHIP funding

Last week, the Senate Finance Committee advanced the Keeping Kids' Insurance Dependable and Secure (KIDS) Act (S. 1827), to extend CHIP funding for five years, though the timeline for the bill and the likelihood of its passage remain uncertain. In the interim, impoverished children and pregnant women nationwide will lose access to necessary healthcare.

In the video, Warren outlined some of the consequences of this funding delay for residents of her state and others, before concluding: "I just want everyone in Massachusetts and all around the country to know, we are still fighting for healthcare coverage. We're on your side. We're going to stay in this fight all the way."

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