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SCHIP has been on life support since the fall of 2007, during the
nation's worst economic slump since the Great Depression when families
needed it most. Congress' inability to move forward on this issue has
not been because it doesn't know how to protect children; it does.
Rather, the failure has been political. The House and Senate passed a
similar bill in September 2007 and again in November 2007 only to have
them vetoed by President Bush. Since then funding has not kept pace
with demand for the program.
As a result, more children have joined the ranks of the uninsured,
spurred by increasing unemployment and loss of employer-provided health
insurance. At the same time, contracting state budgets have led to
funding and coverage cuts and the tightening of eligibility
requirements for Medicaid and SCHIP.
The House of Representatives is about to pass a long-awaited and
badly needed reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance
Program with broad bipartisan support. This proposal would guarantee
continued coverage for 6.7 million children, and add protection for 3.9
The numbers below show just how much need exists for the program and its expansion to cover more kids.
The economy has soured.
7.2 percent: The unemployment rate in December 2008.
2.6 million: The number of Americans who lost their jobs in 2008, and in many cases, the coverage that came with these jobs.
1.1 million: Increase in Medicaid and SCHIP enrollment with every percentage point increase in unemployment.
19: Number of states that, in the face of recession, have enacted budget cuts for Medicaid or SCHIP for fiscal year 2009 or 2010.
The number of uninsured has increased.
1.2 million: Number of children who lost employer-based health insurance through their parents in the 12 months ending in October 2008.
Number of children who have enrolled in Medicaid or SCHIP as a result
of lost parental employment in the 12 months ending in October 2008.
6.2 million: Number
of uninsured children living in families making below 200 percent of
the federal poverty level, almost all of whom are eligible for SCHIP or
9 million: Number of children who are uninsured nationwide, the vast majority of whom are from low- and middle-income families.
Reauthorizing and expanding SCHIP can help.
The number of children the new SCHIP legislation will cover (6.7
million currently enrolled; 3.9 million added to the program).
Put simply, health insurance improves access to care for children,
helping them grow into healthy adults. Increasing coverage for our
nation's low-income children is one of the best investments we can make
to improve long-term health.
Read more about SCHIP and health care:
The Center for American Progress is a think tank dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through ideas and action. We combine bold policy ideas with a modern communications platform to help shape the national debate, expose the hollowness of conservative governing philosophy and challenge the media to cover the issues that truly matter.
"We must act to end the international embarrassment of the United States being the only major country on earth to not guarantee healthcare to all," said Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Economic justice and human rights advocates applauded Wednesday as progressives in the U.S. House and Senate reintroduced legislation to expand the Medicare system to all Americans, with the bill garnering more support in Congress than ever before.
More than half of the Democratic caucus in the House has signed on as co-sponsors of the Medicare for All Act of 2023, including 13 powerful ranking members of congressional committees.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was joined by Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) in leading more than 120 lawmakers in introducing the bill, with a number of supporters speaking about the worsening healthcare crisis at a press conference on Capitol Hill.
"We live in a country where millions of people ration lifesaving medication or skip necessary trips to the doctor because of cost," said Jayapal. "Sadly, the number of people struggling to afford care continues to skyrocket as millions of people lose their current health insurance as pandemic-era programs end. Breaking a bone or getting sick shouldn't be a reason that people in the richest country in the world go broke."
"There is a solution to this health crisis—a popular one that guarantees healthcare to every person as a human right and finally puts people over profits and care over corporations," the congresswoman added. "That solution is Medicare for All—everyone in, nobody out."
\u201cIntroducing the Medicare for All Act of 2023 https://t.co/n3aqsAOXho\u201d— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@Rep. Pramila Jayapal) 1684346363
About 15 million people in the U.S. are set to lose their health coverage this year as pandemic-era assistance ends, adding to the 85 million people who are currently either uninsured or underinsured—with coverage that includes high deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs, leaving them unable to afford the healthcare they need.
Sanders, who has advocated for a government-run health program for decades, noted in a press statement than 68,000 people per year in the U.S. die due to a lack of health coverage.
"The American people understand, as I do, that healthcare is a human right, not a privilege," said Sanders, who serves as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. "As we speak, there are millions of people who would like to go to a doctor but cannot afford to do so. That is an outrage... We must act to end the international embarrassment of the United States being the only major country on earth to not guarantee healthcare to all."
Under the Medicare for All Act, the existing Medicare program—which is generally open only to people age 65 and older—would be expanded to everyone in the United States and would allow them to obtain primary, vision, dental, reproductive, and mental healthcare; prescription drugs; substance abuse treatment; long-term healthcare services; and other medical care without any cost at the point of service.
While detractors—including lawmakers who take substantial donations from the for-profit health insurance industry—have frequently claimed that Medicare for All would be too expensive, a Congressional Budget Office analysis found in 2020 that the program would save between $300 billion and $650 billion annually.
"A study by RAND found that moving to a Medicare for All system would save a family with an income of less than $185,000 about $3,000 a year, on average," said Sanders' office in a statement.
The lawmakers introduced the legislation a day after Sanders and Jayapal hosted a town hall on Capitol Hill where they were joined by patients, doctors, and nurses whose experiences in the U.S. healthcare system illustrate the need for Medicare for All.
Dr. Natasha Driver, a first-year obstetrics and gynecology resident at Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C., said she recently cared for a woman whose service industry job did not provide her with health insurance.
"When I first met her after delivery, she refused treatments which were part of routine postpartum care for the simple reason that she couldn't afford them," said Driver. "This is a regrettable and all too common occurrence in the practice of medicine, especially for those of us who work with the underserved. Medicare for All would reduce the problem of uninsurance and allow me to adequately care for my patients."
\u201cLIVE: Join me and @RepJayapal as we hold a town hall at the U.S. Capitol on the need for Medicare for All. https://t.co/Zawjrh77KX\u201d— Bernie Sanders (@Bernie Sanders) 1684280198
Robert Weissman, president of consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, noted that while millions of Americans lack health coverage that would allow them to receive adequate care, health insurers, hospital chains, and pharmaceutical companies "are generating staggering profits," with insurance companies making more than $69 billion last year.
"It's time for Americans to stop being treated like suckers. It's time to make healthcare a right. It's time for Medicare for All," said Weissman. "A system of expanded and improved Medicare for All would reduce our spending on healthcare while providing universal access, better outcomes, and more equity."
"With Medicare for All, healthcare decisions would be made by patients and doctors—not for-profit insurance companies thinking about their bottom lines," he added. "There would never be another medical bankruptcy. Having decent coverage would not depend on where a person works or whether they are employed or married. Patients could take their prescriptions on schedule, without worrying about price."
Social Security Works (SSW) pointed out that the legislation is being introduced as Republicans threaten the Medicare and Social Security systems with their proposal to raise the debt ceiling in exchange for social spending cuts.
"Medicare for All's supporters envision a future where Medicare is improved to include dental, hearing, vision and long-term care, and then expanded to cover everyone in America," said Alex Lawson, executive director of SSW. "A future without delays or denials, without copays or deductibles. A future where everyone gets the care they need. Meanwhile, Republicans want to make our current profit-driven healthcare system even worse."
"The best way for Democrats to stop that from happening," Lawson said, "is to go on offense with full-fledged support for Medicare for All."
Instead of forcing aging employees to delay retirement, lawmakers should ensure that workers have "access to jobs that pay fair wages and provide solid benefits during their prime working years," argues a new report.
Right-wing lawmakers' preferred method for dealing with the United States' looming retirement crisis—telling older workers to keep toiling until they've saved enough to stop—is "not a viable solution," says a report published Wednesday.
"Millions of people are entering their retirement years with insufficient savings to cover basic expenses and medical bills," the new analysis from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) notes. "In response, some policymakers have proposed that older Americans could delay retirement to increase their savings."
But this ostensible fix "overlooks the large group of older Americans who work in difficult conditions—ranging from the physically demanding to the outright dangerous," EPI points out. "If older Americans endure difficult conditions that often force earlier exits from the workplace, proposals to delay retirement make little sense."
"Americans should... be fighting for more leisure."
Rather than forcing aging employees to postpone retirement, lawmakers should implement full-employment macroeconomic policies to ensure that workers have "access to jobs that pay fair wages and provide solid benefits during their prime working years," says the report, calling the latter approach "a more effective way to close the retirement savings gap."
To make sure "older workers can afford to retire when they need to," EPI also urges policymakers to bolster "support for workers with caregiving responsibilities, expand Social Security coverage and benefits," and improve "conditions for all workers through collective bargaining, stronger labor standards, and more effective health and safety protections."
Those who portray working longer as a legitimate solution for people who cannot afford to retire assume that "as workers age and gain more work experience, they are able to transition into jobs that are less physically demanding, less onerous, and less hazardous—making it possible to extend their working lives," the report notes. But as it goes on to show, "many workers in fact see little or no improvement in working conditions as they age."
Based on her analysis of data from the American Working Conditions Survey conducted by the RAND Corporation in 2015 and 2018, EPI researcher and report author Monique Morrissey found that:
Making matters worse, these tough jobs that roughly half of the nation's workers between the ages of 50 and 70 put up with don't pay enough to make retirement a possibility.
"Quantifying the large share of older workers with difficult jobs serves as a reality check for policymakers and researchers who view later retirement as an easy way for workers to close retirement income gaps," the report states.
"It misguided and unrealistic to expect older workers with onerous or hazardous jobs to keep working into advanced old age," the report continues. "A better way to close the retirement income gap is to support workers' ability to be fully employed during their prime working years and ensure that all jobs come with benefits that lead to a secure retirement."
On Wednesday afternoon, Morrissey was joined by U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Siavash Radpour, associate research director of the ReLab at the New School's Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, for a discussion moderated by Schwartz Center director and economic professor Teresa Ghilarducci.
Beyer brought up legislation he introduced last year that would establish an Older Workers Bureau in the U.S. Department of Labor aimed at improving aging employees' working conditions through targeted research.
Radpour, meanwhile, stressed that the nation's lack of retirement security results in lower job quality for all employees, which in turn decreases workers' ability to fight for a better future.
Workers need more leverage to negotiate for higher pay and better conditions, Radpour emphasized. But due to inadequate retirement funding, many aging employees have no choice but to keep toiling away at low-paying, onerous jobs. The inability of many workers to retire comfortably currently empowers employers, but reversing the present situation would have an inverse effect.
Notably, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which seeks to push U.S. labor law in a more worker-friendly direction and increase workers' collective bargaining power, has languished in Congress for the past several years.
\u201cIt is important to adequately fund retirement for workers to give them leverage and the ability to choose between work and retirement. This choice will empower them to negotiate with their employers so they can have better work AND better retirement \u2013 @sia_rdp.\u201d— Economic Policy Institute (@Economic Policy Institute) 1684346405
In February, progressive U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) unveiled the Social Security Expansion Act, which would increase benefits by at least $200 per month and prolong the program's solvency for decades by finally requiring wealthy Americans to pay their fair share. The bill, which is overwhelmingly popular among voters of all persuasions, stands in stark contrast to Republican lawmakers' proposals to slash Social Security benefits and postpone eligibility.
Morrissey, for her part, observed that the lack of affordable healthcare—a widespread problem thanks to the for-profit model that plagues the U.S.—also hurts the nation's entire workforce, especially older employees who may be passed over for jobs by employers looking to avoid higher insurance costs.
On Wednesday, Sanders, joined by U.S. Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) in the House, introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2023, which would guarantee universal healthcare without copays, deductibles, or high out-of-pocket costs. Its sponsors argue the bill would not only save lives but also empower the U.S. working class as a whole.
When asked during the roundtable about French workers' fight to protect their world-class pension system, Morrissey thanked them and said that "Americans should also be fighting for more leisure."
Emanuel is using his role as U.S. ambassador to Japan to boost a major gas export project in Alaska, The American Prospect reported.
A figure widely reviled in progressive circles for his past efforts to drag the Democratic Party to the right on climate and other issues is using his current position as the U.S. ambassador to Japan—and his extensive ties to the corporate world—to help secure funding for a major gas export project in Alaska that the Biden administration is supporting despite its pledge to rein in planet-warming emissions.
The American Prospect's Lee Harris reported Wednesday that Rahm Emanuel, who previously served as White House chief of staff in the Obama administration and was the mayor of Chicago for eight years, "hosted a summit last October" on the Alaska gas project "with investors including Goldman Sachs and BlackRock, and is expected to continue his promo tour with next week’s keynote address at the Alaska Sustainable Energy Conference."
"The Alaska LNG Project, which would help the U.S. sell more gas to Asia, has struggled for years to raise capital, despite billions of dollars in federal loan guarantees," Harris noted. "Oil companies ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, and BP pulled out of the project in 2014, after a natural gas supply glut caused prices to collapse."
Climate advocates voiced outrage—but not surprise—over Emanuel's role in boosting the project, which got a crucial green light from the Biden Energy Department last month.
"Rahm Emanuel did more than any single individual to sabotage Barack Obama's climate agenda at a time when there were congressional majorities," Lukas Ross, senior program manager at Friends of the Earth, told the Prospect. "It comes as no surprise to find him 13 years later trying to light the fuse of a massive carbon bomb."
\u201cYou maybe thought when Rahm Emanuel was exiled to Japan that would be the end of his policy meddling days, but no, he's leading the charge to get a gas pipeline and LNG terminal built on the Pacific Coast. From @leee_harris:\nhttps://t.co/8MCl4ck5ZV\u201d— David Dayen (@David Dayen) 1684334172
Harris noted that the $40 billion project would "include multiple interlocking pieces of infrastructure: a gas processing facility with carbon capture and an export terminal, connected by 800 miles of pipeline across melting permafrost."
Proposed by the state-owned Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC), the project could result in more than 50 million metric tons of new planet-warming emissions each year if it's completed.
Politicoreported earlier this month that Emanuel's "continued promotion of the project [has] helped ease foreign buyers' fears that the Biden administration would abruptly kill the project."
Earlier this week, Sierra Club and Earthjusticeformally requested a rehearing of the Department of Energy's decision to approve methane gas exports from the Alaska project, which the groups said would "exacerbate the climate crisis by locking in decades of increased gas extraction."
"Claiming that a project like this could possibly be in the public interest isn't just out of step with the Biden administration's stated commitment to climate action—it's out of step with reality," said Andrea Feniger, chapter director of Sierra Club Alaska.
But as Harris detailed, the Biden administration has "expanded existing guarantees to move risks associated with Alaska LNG onto the public balance sheet."
"In 2004, the Natural Gas Pipeline Act authorized up to $18 billion in loan guarantees for the Alaska project, meaning the government would act as a backstop to assure lenders that they would be repaid. That commitment, which was indexed to inflation, is worth nearly $30 billion in guaranteed debt today," Harris explained. "The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed in 2021 sweetened the deal. The 2004 law would have required that the Alaska project send gas to the continental United States to be eligible for subsidies. But an IIJA amendment allowed any project that exports natural gas from Alaska’s North Slope, including outside the U.S., to qualify."
Harris added that the project could also benefit—to the tune of billions of dollars—from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which "dialed up federal subsidies for carbon capture in the Section 45Q tax credit."
The IRA was heavily influenced by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), one of the fossil fuel industry's top allies in Congress.
\u201cLong list of derisking & subsidies:\n-Nearly 30 billion(!) in loan guarantees, expanded in bipartisan infrastructure bill to allow exports\n-$6 billion in subsidies for carbon capture from IRA\u2019s fattened 45Q\n-State entity issues debt tax-free\n-More support expected from EXIM bank\u201d— Lee Harris (@Lee Harris) 1684334359
Harris reported that Emanuel is "selling the Alaska gas complex as a blunt political instrument," citing a recent Wall Street Journalop-ed in which he wrote that "if America, Australia, and other friends can supply the majority of Japan's LNG needs, why would Japan need to rely on its adversaries?"—pointing specifically to Russia.
"The U.S. already supplies Japan with 10% of its LNG, and we are ready to do more," Emanuel declared.
By working to boost U.S. gas exports, Harris wrote, Emanuel is "working on behalf of senators from fossil fuel states, including Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), who in March wrote a letter complaining of 'excessive restrictions on public financing of gas projects and unnecessary delays in approving privately-financed projects.'"