It’s been 69 days since the CHIP program’s federal funding stopped. Access to health care for 9.2 million children is about to end.
Nine states have already run out of federal funds, leaving families teetering on the verge of crisis. Colorado has already alerted families who depend on CHIP that at the end of January, without Congressional action, parents will not be able to take their child to the doctor unless they can pay for it. Connecticut, Texas, and Virginia will be the next states to fold up their programs with notices going to parents this month.
A total of 14 states reported to the Department of Health and Human Services their plans to terminate or phase out coverage for children, including five states that plan to end coverage by the end of January 2018. Gov. Wolf has said PA would run out of money for CHIP in February.
Yet, the President’s priority for the nation is the passage of the federal tax bill.
The President and the bill’s proponents insist the $1.5 trillion bill will pay for itself and spur growth.
House and Senate leaders have agreed to this dubious gamble when it comes to the most sweeping tax overhaul in 30 years.
The CHIP program costs $5.8 billion, according to the administration. Considering the massive cost of the tax bill, you have to wonder what Sen. Hatch actually means when he says there’s no money left.
It’s not like Congress has no options. Take, for example, the estate tax. The federal tax bill increases the amount of money a parent can leave to their heirs untaxed from $5 million per heir to $10 million. The cost of this federal gift to the wealthiest 1% of Americans costs $10 billion a year, according to the Joint Tax Committee of the U.S. Congress.
The tax code is loaded with options for closing the CHIP funding gap.
For instance, the new tax bill codifies tax breaks for private jets, craft beer and winery profits, and maintains a tax break for the largest golf course owners in the nation. So many of these sorts of tax breaks aren’t budget busters on their own, but just these three gratuitous tax breaks costs nearly $1.5 billion a year in lost federal revenue. If collected, this revenue could provide one million children reliable access to health care.
It’s one thing to ignore experts and roll the dice in the hopes of getting lucky with the economy. That’s just gambling. But we all know that you should only gamble what you can afford. If kicking 9 million children off their health insurance is an afterthought to a $1.5 trillion bet, you probably have a gambling problem.
“That is a great deal of money for a struggling school district, money that the school could have used to hire about 1,322 teachers, provide tablet computers to 155,920 students, or buy 779,600 text books. The students should not be the ones to suffer because of PPA’s mismanagement.” Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, who reported that SDP had been shortchanged nearly $80M from the state-run parking authority. !
“When I think about the families that are at risk in my practice and throughout the region it’s outrageous to me that we’re still talking about this, and it’s outrageous because this is a program we all agree on. This has bipartisan support.” Dr. David Rubin, CHOP Pediatrician and Director of CHOP’s PolicyLab.