As another deadline nears for funding the Children's Health Insurance Program, Vox has uncovered one of the reasons Republicans can't seem to get an extension for the widely popular program in order: some of them don't think children deserve the state-sponsored health coverage.
Interviews with several sources who know the program and the political dynamics around it say what many Republicans will not out loud: Some in their party, particularly archconservatives in the House, have deeply ambivalent feelings about CHIP, and if they are going to extend it, they want spending cuts to Obamacare or Medicare in return, as the CHIP extension that the House muscled through in November did.
Much like Medicaid, these Republicans view CHIP as a program to be whittled down with spending cuts - not fully funded for another six years.
“The House has a lot of folks who consider CHIP to be an entitlement,” one Republican health care lobbyist told me. “They’re not doing anything unless we have entitlement reform.”
Oddly enough, extending the program for six years would cost nothing, as the repeal of Obamacare's individual mandate freed up the funds to cover it. But now it seems Republicans are more concerned with using CHIP as a bargaining chip in the debate over keeping the government funded and DACA disagreements.
Meanwhile, countless American families are living in fear that their children will lose their health insurance - a situation that could have serious health consequences for many of them.
“Expiration was seen as such a cliff that we couldn’t go over it,” the longtime CHIP advocate told me. “Now we’re so far over the cliff, we can’t even see the edge up behind us anymore and we’re still falling.”
“Not only are we in this free fall, the longer you’re in it, the more blasé some policymakers are becoming about it,” this person continued. “There is the lack of appreciation, or simply the fact of really caring, of what the human consequences” could be.