Congressional Inaction Threatens Healthcare for 9 Million Vulnerable Children

USA, Utah, Payson, Childbirth in hospital
  

With the hubbub surrounding healthcare reform, North Korea, protesting football players, and several devastating hurricanes, it is imperative that we as nurses and citizens not lose track of other important issues that also deserve our attention. For instance, on Saturday, 9 million of our most vulnerable children stand to lose their healthcare if Congress does not act.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a popular bipartisan program that was created in 1997 in order to serve children who would not otherwise have access to health insurance. Unfortunately, funding for CHIP runs out on September 30th.

Despite a reported bipartisan agreement to extend financing for this critical program, Congress has yet to take action.  And time is running out: Axios reports that the situation is dire for at least three states—Minnesota, Arizona, and North Carolina—as well as the District of Columbia, all of whom would run out of CHIP funding between October and December of this year if Congress does not meet its September 30th deadline. Most other states are projected to run out of CHIP funding sometime early next year without immediate action to fund CHIP.

Nurses know that this is unacceptable. We can all agree that America’s children are our most precious and valuable resource—simply put, leaving 9 million American children without healthcare is immoral and wrong. Moreover, it would be bad policy. As the Children’s Hospital Association puts it, “healthy children grow up to become healthy adults, and CHIP helps ensure that the children covered by the program are able to reach their full potential.”

The American Nurses Association agrees. The evidence shows that children with access to CHIP experience improved health outcomes, reductions in avoidable hospitalizations, and lower child mortality, all of which reduce overall healthcare costs. CHIP recipients are also more likely to attend school and graduate from college, and less likely to cause their parents to miss time at work.

Bottom line: CHIP translates into gains with “positive implications for both individual economic well-being and overall economic productivity.” In short, it’s a no-brainer.

It’s time for Congress to act now, before funding runs out for this common-sense program. Our children deserve no less.

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