If Congress fails to renew funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) by Friday, new reports suggest that 2 million American children are in danger of losing their insurance as soon as next month.
According to NBC News, 20 states are due to run out of money during the first quarter of 2018. Since allowing the program's funding to lapse in September, Congress has only offered a patch by shifting money from states that need less to those running out more quickly.
“In essence, the patch robs Peter to pay Paul,” the report reads.
“The remaining 31 states will see their share of redistribution funds reduced, and thus the timeline by which they will run out of money is accelerated. Despite the additional funds, the 20 ‘winner’ states will only have sufficient funds to operate their programs through January,” it adds.
“All of them will come up short for February.”
Politicians, doctors, and policy experts are perplexed by the situation, as CHIP has long enjoyed bipartisan support.
“This is the ultimate bad Christmas carol story,” Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said at a news conference where politicians held lumps of coal.
The situation is more dire than perhaps some in Congress realize and effectively puts children's lives on the line:
Pediatricians say when kids don’t have health insurance, their parents skip needed medical care.
“For some conditions, that can be deadly,” said Dr. Sam Bartle, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at the Virginia Commonwealth University/VCU Health System and president of the Virginia chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.