Catastrophe. September’s earthquake in Central Mexico. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Hurricane Maria, which decimated Puerto Rico. And then Sunday, October 1, 2017.
On Monday, much of the nation awoke to the sickening news of one of the biggest mass shootings in recent American history: 58 dead, over 500 injured, after a madman opened fire into a crowd of thousands attending an open-air music festival on the Las Vegas strip.
We mourn the dead. We also mourn the survivors, who must carry on with their lives in the wake of catastrophe, victimized by injuries, physical and mental; traumas that will likely follow them the rest of their lives.
We respond as we always do, through food and supply drives, fundraising, blood donations. We react to these crises because they come without warning and are packaged with harrowing images—it’s almost impossible not to react. Until the alerts on our phones slow to a trickle. Until the next controversy. Until the next catastrophe.
But there’s an insidious catastrophe that is unlikely to make national headlines or even trend on Twitter. It’s no spectacle, even though it harms a bare minimum of 9 million people. It doesn’t shock or amaze an audience, even if its victims are all children.
Last weekend, the U.S. Congress failed to fund a popular program that enjoys bipartisan support and protects the lives of 176,000 children in Pennsylvania alone.
The federal Children’s Health Insurance Program funds preventative and sick care for 9 million children in working families across the country. Although it represents just a sliver of the federal budget, health insurance coverage plays a major role in helping kids succeed at school and in life, and supports parents whose work-provided insurance doesn’t cover their children.
And now the clock is ticking. As states run out of CHIP funding, they’ll be sending notices to families letting them know they’re out of time and out of luck. Minnesota has already said they’re out of money. Governor Wolf says that Pennsylvania, which already has its own budget crisis, runs out of CHIP funds in February.
Not only does stripping children of health insurance endanger them, but it leaves their parents desperate with worry, stressed out, and with few options. Regular checkups become a memory. Dental care? Forget about it. Vision care? Unless you can access free care programs, like PCCY’s Sight Day (October 21), it’s a luxury.
No shots fired, no force of nature visited—yet the lives and futures of children are under threat of physical harm due to government negligence. This gratuitous, silent violence was absolutely avoidable and is entirely contemptable.
When children are at risk, we all get very focused and very careful. Whatever the state of the world, whenever possible, children must be spared the consequences of the folly of the adults who are supposed to be looking out for them.
Add your name to this letter and urge Senators Casey and Toomey to support the immediate reauthorization of CHIP. We can skip the thoughts and prayers and take action now to spare 9 million children from this senseless catastrophe.
Break the silence! Stand up for 9M kids and tell Senators Casey and Toomey to support the bipartisan agreement for a 5-year extention for the Children’s Health Insurance Program!
“If you devoted $5 million to expanding prekindergarten in Philadelphia, one of the main uses for the beverage tax, it would fund pre-K for nearly 600 kids. The city is subsidizing about 2,000 seats right now.” WHYY’s Dave Davies.
“Navient’s deceptive practices and predatory conduct harmed student borrowers and put their own profits ahead of the interests of millions of families across our country who are struggling to repay student loans.” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who filed a lawsuit against the student-loan company.