Pages tagged "Health"
A bipartisan team of lawmakers have introduced a bill to make the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) permanent, a move overwhelmingly supported by pediatricians, advocates, parents, and the American public.
The Comprehensive Access to Robust Insurance Now Guaranteed (CARING) for Kids Act (H.R.6151), introduced Monday by Reps. Abby Finkenauer (D-IA) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL), would remove the recurring uncertainty around the federal health insurance program that covers 10 million of our nation’s children. CHIP is the only federal health insurance program subject to expiration, funding cliffs, offsets, and re-authorization votes.
“CHIP is a bipartisan success story that has, since its inception more than two decades ago, dramatically cut the uninsured rate for children,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus Campaign for Children. “Paradoxically, it is also the only federal health insurance program that is regularly used as a bargaining chip on Capitol Hill. During these times more than ever, children and their families must be able to trust that their health care coverage will be there for them and will be affordable, accessible and meet their needs. We are thrilled that Representatives Finkenauer and Buchanan have tackled this long-standing issue and we fully support this bipartisan bill to protect the health coverage of children by making CHIP permanent.”
A bipartisan coalition in Congress created CHIP in 1997 to address a national health care crisis in which 15% of our nation’s children lacked coverage. The program targets families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford other health insurance options. By guaranteeing pediatric-focused care to millions of children, CHIP played a critical role in ensuring that 95% of children in America were insured by 2016.
Despite its success, CHIP remains temporary and requires an increasingly elusive act of Congress every few years simply to keep it going. Lawmakers have missed reauthorization and funding deadlines over its 23-year history, most recently in 2016 and 2017, and have even threatened to eliminate the program entirely. The repeated uncertainty has harmed children by threatening to interrupt protocols and on-going treatment plans and creating toxic stress for families trying to keep their kids healthy. Threats to CHIP also can force state administrators to suspend program outreach, enrollment, and other activities in order to plan for its possible demise.
Congress most recently pushed CHIP reauthorization to the brink in 2017, when it took lawmakers 132 days — more than four months — to reach a final agreement. First Focus Campaign for Children was instrumental in renewal efforts, bringing to Washington eight families whose children relied on CHIP so they could talk with lawmakers. First Focus also ran national newspaper ads, created online campaigns, educated members of Congress on the need for CHIP and advocated for its extension.
The uncertainty and lengthy delay of the 2017 reauthorization fight led to the first increase in the percentage of uninsured children in two decades. Trump Administration regulatory policies to push children off of health insurance since then have amplified this decline, with the percentage of uninsured children rising to 5.5 percent in 2018.
No other federal health insurance program – not Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, TRICARE or FEHBP – is subject to frequent expirations, funding cliffs, the need for offsets, or the potential to be used as a bargaining chip.
CHIP remains a popular, cost-effective, public-private partnership. A 2017 poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 88% of American voters consider CHIP reauthorization an important priority for the president and Congress.
The Finkenauer-Buchanan bill would ensure the long-term future of CHIP, finally answering the repeated call from pediatricians, public health officials, parents and members of Congress themselves to guarantee the health and well-being of our nation’s children.
The CARING for Kids Act would:
- Protect the health coverage of 10 million children;
- Give CHIP equal status with other federal health insurance programs;
- Protect CHIP from changes to or elimination of the Affordable Care Act that could make CHIP extension more difficult in the future;
- Allow health experts and advocates to shift their focus to important problems facing children, such as infant mortality, mental health, substance abuse, diabetes, asthma, and oral health; and,
- Let states pursue innovation and improvements to CHIP rather than contingency plans for its elimination.
Letter: Children should not be treated as an afterthought — pass these bipartisan and common sense bills
First Focus Campaign for Children sent the following letter to all 100 U.S. Senators, urging them to consider legislation that would improve the lives and well-being of children.
Excerpt from the letter:
In the past, an important hallmark of the Senate has been its ability to work on a bipartisan basis to reach agreement on major important problems facing the nation and its future. At this moment in time, there are a number of critical challenges facing our nation’s children that the Senate should address. Children should not be treated as an afterthought. The best interest of children should be bipartisan and something that is in all of our interest. Children are our future. Unfortunately, here are areas in which we are currently failing our children...
On June 3rd, 2019, First Focus Campaign for Children sent a letter to Representatives Joe Courtney (D-CT) and Mike Kelly (R-PA) in support of their Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2019.
Excerpt from the Letter: On behalf of First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan children’s advocacy group working to ensure children and families are a priority in federal policy and budget decisions, I write to offer our strong support for H.R. 748, the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2019.
A key tenet of our Proactive Kids Agenda is to ensure all children have health coverage that meets their physical, oral, and behavioral health care needs. In light of the fact that over 37 million children have employer-provided health care coverage, we are deeply concerned that the 40 percent “Cadillac Tax” on employer coverage will encourage the shifting of even more costs onto families through higher deductibles and copayments, the imposition of coverage limitations, and the elimination of benefits, which disproportionately impact family plans and the pediatric coverage specific to the need of our nation’s children. Although slated for 2022, there is evidence that the “Cadillac Tax” is already causing employers to make changes to their health plans to avoid the tax.
Blueprint Shows How 116th Congress Can Act on the Best Interests of Children (more…)
Any policies that affect children should base their foundations on the best interests of the child.
On behalf of the First Focus Campaign for Children, a national bipartisan children’s advocacy organization dedicated to making children and families a priority in federal budget and policy decisions, we commend your work on the Children’s Program of All-Inclusive Coordinated Care (ChiPACC) Act. We are honored to continue working with you on the bill, have the bill passed, and continue to support the Congressional Childhood Cancer Caucus.
On behalf of the First Focus Campaign for Children, a national bipartisan children’s advocacy organization dedicated to making children and families a priority in federal budget and policy decisions, we commend your work on behalf of our nation’s children. Senate bill 3427 and House bill 6775 can have a profound effect on the health and well-being of children all across the country.
We commend a draft bill from Rep. Beutler on behalf of at-risk pregnant women and support your draft bill, released on September 11, 2018, to address the health and well-being of pregnant women and infant children.
First Focus Campaign for Children applauds the introduction of the Maternal CARE Act and the opportunity to to reduce the number of African American women who are at risk of maternal and infant mortality.
African American women face a high risk of maternal mortality and their children have significantly higher rates of infant mortality than white and Latino children of the same age. As a children’s advocacy organization, First Focus believes all children, and moms, regardless of their race or socioeconomic status, must have a chance to build a bright future.
First Focus Campaign for Children sent a letter to Congress in support of the Hallways to Health Act, which expands the School-Based Health Center Program.
These centers are a vital source of medical, behavioral, and oral health care services for children with limited access to care. According to the School-Based Health Alliance, there are over 2,300 “school-based clinics that serve students and communities in 49 of 50 states and the District of Columbia.”
First Focus has long supported strengthening our nation’s most vulnerable children’s access to health care. The expanded program would encourage children to adopt healthy behaviors and would give schools the ability to incorporate tele-medicine.