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Here's How Many Kids Could Lose Insurance Thanks To CHIP Cuts

There's this thing we are supposed to do as adults. We are meant to take care of the children. All of the children, not just the ones who were born into wealthy families or the ones we know or the ones we love. Because they simply cannot take care of themselves. They're vulnerable. And yet. Here's how many kids could lose insurance thanks to CHIP cuts. I guess not everyone got the memo.

On Tuesday, President Trump announced a proposed plan that would cut $15 billion from the federal budget. One of the deepest cuts Trump proposed was $7 billion from the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. This program offers health insurance for families where the parents make too much money to qualify for Medicaid at a low cost. CHIP has long been championed by Democrats, some of whom are already preparing to fight the proposed cuts. The concept of taking health insurance away to low-income children wasn't necessarily sitting well with GOP politicians either; Republican Sen. Susan Collins from Maine told The Washington Post: "One of the programs that reportedly is going to be cut is CHIP, and that concerns me greatly. I would have to have an awfully good reason given to me, and maybe there is one. I don’t know why there would be funds left in the CHIP account, but that’s a program that I was an original co-sponsor of with Sens. [Orrin] Hatch and [Edward] Kennedy years ago and it matters a lot to me.”

So how many children could potentially lose insurance if the Trump administration's proposed cuts are approved by Congress? At this point, that's a tricky question. According to The Washington Post, hhe cuts are ostensibly coming from two accounts inside CHIP that have not been used in some time, nor are they expected to be put into use. Another White House official reportedly told Reuters that the cuts would come from "unobligated balances" and would not effect the CHIP program itself. In fact, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney went so far as to say on Fox & Friends on Tuesday, according to Think Progress:

The CHIP program is not allowed to spend that money, it would be illegal. I am not making that up. Spending is not authorized. It would be illegal for them to write that check.

That being said, there are some people who remain skeptical that taking $7 billion from CHIP will somehow not make any difference in coverage. It's important to note CHIP has an enrollment of 9 million low-income children across the country, who rely on the program for comprehensive insurance coverage like:

  • Routine check-ups
  • Immunizations
  • Doctor visits
  • Prescriptions
  • Dental and vision care
  • Inpatient and outpatient hospital care
  • Laboratory and X-ray services
  • Emergency services

Since CHIP has come into effect, the rate of uninsured children in America has been steadily declining, from 14 percent in 1997 to just 5 percent in 2016, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. In other words, CHIP funding matters to million of children across the country.

The proposed cuts, which are part of a "rescision" package to recoup funds that have already been approved, would also aim to take $800 million from the Affordable Care Act.If Congress gets enough votes it can opt to rescind money from programs it had previously authorized. Congress will have 45 days to look at this so-called rescision package once the White House has sent it to them before deciding to pass it, or a scaled back version of the same bill. All that will be needed is a simple majority.

It remains to be seen whether or not this rescision package will be approved, and if it is, whether or not these budget cuts to CHIP will see kids losing health insurance.

At this stage of the game, however, I remain skeptical.