Kids Could Start A Ceasefire In Health Care Wars
Following last month’s contentious congressional debate over repealing the Affordable Care Act, the next major battle in the health care wars may already be at our doorsteps. But does it have to be another partisan conflict? What if Congress and the nation could instead declare a ceasefire, return to normal order, and engage in a bipartisan effort to continue and extend health insurance coverage for low-income children?
This next health care fork in the road is the pending reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance program (SCHIP), which celebrated its 20th birthday earlier this month. Throughout its life, SCHIP has enjoyed extraordinary bipartisan support, with Senators Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch leading the charge for its initial passage. Created by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, the program is a joint state-federal partnership that provides low-cost or even free health insurance to low-income children. It has been reauthorized three times since its inception, but funding is now set to expire on September 30, 2017—just about six weeks from now.
Today, 8.9 million children in the United States—including nearly 700,000 kids in New York State—have health insurance through SCHIP. Since the program was enacted, the number of uninsured children nationally has gone down by a whopping 68 percent.