Political policy should not be public health policy


Blog by W. Stephen Love, President/CEO of the DFW Hospital Council

Lawmakers’ promises they’ll soon renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are of little comfort to millions of children in the U.S. It is January 11, 2018, and nine million children are still in limbo because Congress will not reauthorize the health Insurance program.

The wait has been an agonizingly long one – over 100 days and counting for this reauthorization. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the reauthorization in November and yet the U.S. Senate failed to act. Can these senators not imagine the anguish many parents throughout the nation have experienced the past three months because Congress has failed to reauthorize this funding? Will they? Won’t they? Will we need several hundred more dollars per month to cover premiums? These low-income families need assurance CHIP payments will be there in the future.

A new study by the Congressional Budget Office says extending CHIP for 10 years saves $6 billion dollars. The reason is the repeal of the individual mandate in the tax bill means adults will exit the insurance marketplace but enroll their children in CHIP. CHIP payments are cheaper than the subsidies for insurance in the private marketplace.

Even though Texas officials say CHIP funds are available through February 28, 2018, many states are on “red alert” because funding has expired. Congress has put stopgap funding in place until a permanent solution can be decided, but national procrastination has guaranteed our children will receive less funding than needed.

The public health of our children should be the priority of every congressman, especially the senators from each state. Contact Texas Senators Ted Cruz at 202-224-5922 and John Cornyn at 202-224-2934 and express your concern.

I can give you nine million reasons why this needs immediate action. Time has run out. Do the right thing and reauthorize CHIP today.