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Will Congress force me to deny health care to children once again?

It has been 20 years since I’ve had to tell a mother she had no options for insuring her child. At the time, I had been treating a little boy who was born prematurely and required developmental therapies. He toddled over to me from across the waiting room, shouting my name to show that he could. But his mother had found a new job at her aunt’s hair salon, making her no longer eligible for Medicaid. We were forced to turned them away.

That was my second year of pediatric residency at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I quickly learned during this time that families who made too much money to qualify for Medicaid but were unable to obtain private insurance often had no access to medical care for their children. But that changed in 1997, when Congress created the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides comprehensive, affordable health insurance for low-income children not covered by Medicaid. Quite suddenly, I could care for practically every child who walked through the door.


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