One person’s view of history can stand in contrast to another’s even when they are both involved in making the same historical moment.
That’s what we found when we dug into the history of how the Children’s Health Insurance Program came to be. The annals of CHIP have many starting points in Pennsylvania. From our vantage point, it starts with the words Kathleen Johnson, a mother of two in a small town in Western PA, who wrote the Governor imploring him to help her keep her job and afford health care coverage for her children. You can hear Kathleen’s words and get a glimpse into the history of the most powerful public policy change for children in the last 30 years right here. (Take a moment to hear the story. We promise you’ll be thrilled you did!)
Today, there are thousands of parents among us who face the same anguish as Kathleen but can’t write the governor for fear of deportation. For PCCY their heartache is not abstract. Throughout the month of April, we helped nearly 500 children see a dentist free of charge. This year, among them were four undocumented children (Joshua aged 9, Angelica, 8, José, 9, and Anderson, 13) who needed substantial oral surgery to cure mouths full of tooth decay and end their constant pain. Their parents were never able to afford to take them to the dentist. We call this work “Give Kids A Smile” but what’s really needed for all children to smile is simply to make it possible for every child to be afforded the right to health care, not just some.
Pennsylvania’s compassionate history in paving the way for the federal CHIP program that now insures 10 million children stands in stark contrast to its resistance to allowing children who are living in PA without legal citizenship papers to enroll in CHIP.
Just as we helped build public will to create CHIP in 1991, we continue today to build bipartisan support for our Dream Care campaign aimed at fulfilling our state’s promise to “cover all kids.”
For those who joined us last night for our 40th anniversary and the celebration of the creation of CHIP, thank you for supporting our work. If you could not be there, lend your voice to make Dream Care a reality so that every child can be insured in PA by clicking here and let your lawmaker know they can make history by closing this patently immoral gap in meeting the needs of children.
And, in doing so, like Kathleen Johnson, you will be making history too just by sending a letter.