A repeal of the Affordable Care Act may be all over the news but the appearance of a united party supporting such an action is not. With more and more Republicans breaking ranks with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s plan, some voicing concern for the millions of Americans, especially childen who will lose their health insurance, the odds for the repeal may be shrinking.
We believe leading for kids starts from a place of optimism, so this week we’re focusing on what gains can be made where genuine bipartisan agreement actually exists.
Recently, the Republican Governor of Illinois renewed legislation that granted public health insurance to all of the state’s children who need it, including those who are undocumented. For Illinois, that’s just business as usual.
Polls show that while the nation may be divided politically, there is still great agreement on certain issues, particularly, the welfare of our children. Case in point: making sure all kids have access to basic healthcare. Savvy elected officials from both parties know it.
In Illinois, public insurance for children was actually an initiative championed by a Republican governor and supported by legislators on both sides of the aisle. Just recently, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bill renewing the state’s children’s health insurance program, demonstrating his state’s continuing support for the importance of every Illinois child to have coverage.
RARE BIPARTISAN INSIGHT
Illinois wasn’t the only state with bipartisan support. Out of the five states nationwide that currently cover all kids, three of them had the support of a Republican Governor: California, Massachusetts, and Illinois. In fact, Illinois’s program passed in 2006 with overwhelming unanimous support from the House of Representatives in a vote of 107-0.
This level of bipartisan cooperation may be surprising but it shouldn’t be. Covering all kids checks off the boxes in ways few public policies do—it’s fiscally prudent, improves public health, helps all students succeed, supports businesses. That it’s the right thing to do for poor kids may inform the ethos in these states (and the District of Columbia), but the sheer pragmatism of the policy sells itself.
In these jurisdictions, the number of uninsured kids has decreased since the programs have been implemented and are well below the national rate of uninsured children of 4.8%. The reduction in uninsured children has a positive impact on health. Research shows that children covered under Medicaid and CHIP have better access to preventative care and experience fewer unmet health needs than uninsured children.
BENEFITS EVERY KID IN CLASS
Not only does covering all kids protect children from suffering needlessly at the hands of untreated illness, but it also protects every kid in those same classrooms. In these states with such low rates of uninsured children, all parents are rest assured that their kid’s classroom doesn’t have any children whose needs aren’t being met. While PCCY’s programs Give Kids Sight Day and Give Kids a Smile Day aim to fill the gaps in getting kids basic eye and dental care, there are children elsewhere who don’t have access to these free services.
The benefits of covering more kids under public health insurance programs go beyond improvements in access to care and health status. Reductions in uncompensated care are a direct result of covering more people. In fact, it costs 50% less to insure a child through CHIP than the average uncompensated care costs for children in emergency rooms.
States that have made the decision to cover all kids under Republican leadership are doing better than states that have not. Not only are there significant cost savings attributed to these programs, but their kids are healthier too. That’s why it is more important than ever to keep fighting for the wellbeing of all children regardless of their citizenship status.
Democrats, Republicans, and Independents can all agree on the importance of progress and the wellbeing of our kids. Let’s hope that same wisdom can protect children from the devastating proposal being considered in Washington.
Speak your mind! Join us March 21st and speak directly to your state legislators about how they can support young children and their families.