It is frankly disgusting but perhaps not surprising that not one major pwoggie blue blog is even covering this story, the fact the House health bill axes CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program. I’m not even talking about giving it major play, the big blogs are fucking disappearing this story. I’ve just visited Dailykos and TalkingPointsMemo, MYDD (other than my two non-front-paged articles (where you can inform yourself further on the issue’s complexities)), nothing. Firedoglake, nothing. Found nothing at huffpost’s admittedly vast site. Firedoglake’s Daily Health Care News – 11/6/09, 11/5/09, nothing. This for a program that was used aggressively in 2007 and 2008 to hammer President Bush for his heartlessness? How soon we ‘forget’ or change our priorities depending on Democratic Party uber alles?
The only place discussing the House Bill’s repeal of CHIP is the Washington Independent, where Mike Lillis has another insightful piece today. It is a reasonably balanced piece, and no one is denying this is a complex issue. But we should discuss the death of CHIP, not silence any discussion. Right? Here’s a piece of the article, but you really should read the whole thing:
The $894 billion health reform bill working its way toward a House vote this week would repeal the Children’s Health Insurance Program, shifting some low-income kids into Medicaid and others into private plans that would both cost more and guarantee fewer benefits. Which program the youngsters tumble into hinges, not on need, but on the state where they live – a design some advocates call “the lottery of geography.”
“Much of the House bill is good, but on CHIP they only did half a loaf,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, a children’s health advocacy group. . . .
The House bill . . . expands Medicaid eligibility to 150 percent of poverty and shifts all kids living above that level to private plans contained on a proposed insurance marketplace, or exchange, the proposal also carves out an exception in states which augmented Medicaid in lieu of creating a separate CHIP program. In those cases, the youngsters would remain in Medicaid.
The distinction carries both coverage and cost implications. Under current law, all state Medicaid programs are required to offer a blanket system of preventative care known as the early periodic screening, diagnosis and treatment program, or EPSDT. The exchange plans, on the other hand, don’t have the same mandate. (Although states with stand-alone CHIP programs are not bound to cover EPSDT services, some of them do.) . . .
And because states have vastly different income-eligibility levels for Medicaid and CHIP, the House bill offers no guarantee that the most vulnerable kids would receive the most robust benefits. In New Jersey, for example, Medicaid covers youngsters up to 200 percent of poverty, at which point CHIP takes over and covers kids up to 350 percent. Minnesota, by contrast, covers kids up to 275 percent of poverty under Medicaid but has no stand-alone CHIP plan.
The result? Children living at 275 percent of poverty in Minnesota would, under the House bill, still pay almost nothing for care under Medicaid — including EPSDT coverage — while families living at the same income level in New Jersey will be responsible for 22 percent of the cost of their exchange plans, without the assurance of EPSDT services. . . .
. . . there are more New Jerseys out there than Minnesotas. Currently, about 5.3 million (or 72 percent) of the 7.4 million CHIP kids live in states with stand-alone CHIP programs, according to Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families.
Please note that Marian Wright Edelman and the Children’s Defense Fund have come out strongly against the death of CHIP (instead supporting an alternative bill that would make it consistently cover every child in families up to 300% of poverty):
“They’re going to be paying a lot more out of their pockets and getting fewer benefits,” warned Alison Buist, director of child health at the Children’s Defense Fund.
CHIP is not being killed out of ignorance about what that will do. The concerns of Edelman have been reflected in the House debate, and rejected:
Some House lawmakers recognize the potential problems. During the markup of health reform legislation in the Education and Labor Committee, for example, lawmakers passed an amendment — offered by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) — requiring that all exchange plans offer EPSDT services. That proposal, however, was stripped out in the final bill.
Another amendment, offered by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Col.), would have prevented the shift from CHIP to private plans unless the White House provided certification that the private plans offered comparable benefits. That proposal passed the Energy and Commerce Committee, but was also removed in the final bill.
DeGette’s office said earlier this week that the certification language was removed “to reflect some budgetary constraints.”
Finally, yes, Senator Jay Rockefeller may ride to the rescue. Or, he may not, how do we ‘know’ he will when real progressives aren’t being kept informed, when no one even knows what’s going on?
In the Senate, members of the Finance Committee last month passed an amendment to reauthorize CHIP through 2019. The sponsor of that amendment, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), is already vowing to fight for that provision all the way to the White House.
“We need to make sure children can keep their CHIP coverage and not be forced into untested private coverage,” Rockefeller said in a statement this week. “Health care reform should improve the coverage children have — not take their coverage away.”
As I said yesterday,
The cost of providing CHIP to all families up to 300% of poverty level would be $11 billion a year over ten years. Anyway, like the Washington Independent writer says, "Get out the popcorn. This saga is just getting started." Hey, do more than watch. Contact Senator Rockefeller and tell him you’re 100% support his efforts to save CHIP.
Even better contact Nancy Pelosi and tell her axing CHIP sucks, but try to use words that won’t ‘make’ them cover their ears and not listen to the ‘concern troll’.