Time is Running Out: Kids Need Your Help Right Now!
A Message from Larry Levine, President & CEO of Blythedale Children's Hospital
I just returned from Washington, where I was advocating on behalf of what was once one of the easiest and safest bets in Congress: to pass legislation reauthorizing the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This vital healthcare program was created in 1997 and since that time has been enthusiastically supported by both political parties. Every time it came up for reauthorization, it enjoyed strong bipartisan support. Why?
CHIP has always been one of the most cost-effective federal investments. It pays for preventative and medical care for kids whose parents make too much to be eligible for Medicaid, but can't afford private health insurance - covering costs like annual check-ups, immunizations, office visits and hospital care - everything from ear aches and the flu to cancer treatment and rehabilitation.
Today, CHIP covers nine-million children nationwide and 700,000 in New York State. The annual cost of CHIP is 14 billion dollars (averaging $2,330 per child according to the Congressional Budget Office). When compared to a four-trillion dollar annual budget for healthcare in the United States (that’s 4,000 billion dollars). CHIP is both a minuscule expenditure and a major health care bargain. That’s why both Republicans and Democrats reauthorized CHIP in past years by huge majorities.
Just about every Senator and Congressional representative endorses this program. And yet the deadline for reauthorization on September 30, 2017 has come and gone. Some states have actually sent out notices to parents letting them know that funds will be running out if this legislation isn't passed now.
So what's the problem? As we all know, Washington and our country have become polarized to the extent that legislation like CHIP can't be passed without becoming part of a larger political battle. CHIP reauthorization is being used as a political bargaining “chip” to advance other goals and unrelated pieces of legislation by both sides of the political aisle.
Hundreds of families whose sick children rely on CHIP for care have called my office, desperately hoping that Congress will put aside its political differences and pass CHIP. Can you imagine worrying about your child, who has a serious medical problem, and now also having to worry that his/her health insurance will lapse?
The window is closing fast for these families. I just heard that the House and Senate may be voting on various legislative measures as early as Thursday - tomorrow!
I urge everyone reading this to please pick up your phone and call or email your Congressional representative and your U.S. senator and tell them to pass a "clean bill" (Washington talk for stand-alone legislation not attached to other program funding or legislation) to reauthorize CHIP for at least six years - because our children cannot wait any longer.
Not sure who represents you in Congress? CLICK HERE and this service will help you access links to your member's website and contact page.
About Blythedale Children’s Hospital
As New York’s only freestanding, specialty children’s hospital, Blythedale is dedicated to improving the health and quality of life of children with medical complexity, not only through superb multi-disciplinary patient care, but also through teaching, research, and advocacy programs. Blythedale’s board-certified physicians, nurses, and other clinical staff (social workers, respiratory therapists, clinical pharmacists, Child Life specialists, etc.) and New York State’s largest hospital-based pediatric therapy department work together to provide intensive and innovative multi-disciplinary clinical and therapeutic care to help children achieve their medical and rehabilitative goals for independent living, and return to their communities. Blythedale is also the only Hospital in New York State with its own, on-site public school district.
For more information about Blythedale Children’s Hospital, visit www.blythedale.org.