Congressional Republicans have been so busy trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and give massive tax breaks to the really rich that they haven’t even bothered to figure out how to keep two critical and totally noncontroversial healthcare programs running after this weekend. Funding for both the Children’s Health Insurance program and community health centers will lapse after Saturday, and so far House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are just letting that happen, saying they’ll get to it later.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who sits on one of the key committees in charge of health care, confirmed to TPM that Congress will likely allow CHIP to lapse by Saturday’s deadline, putting the health insurance of millions of children in jeopardy.
“I’m confident the money will come but obviously it’s not going to come on time,” she said wearily.
Funding for CHIP, which provides health insurance for nearly 9 million children nationwide, expires this Saturday. The Senate Finance committee has worked for months on a bill to reauthorize it for the next five years, but the work was pushed to the back burner as Republicans chose instead to spend weeks taking one last unsuccessful run at repealing Obamacare.
“If I had had my way, we would have spent our week working on getting a Children’s Health insurance plan passed,” grumbled Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the top Democrat on the Finance Committee that oversees CHIP. “Regrettably, we had to spend a lot of our time trying to finally push back on Trumpcare 2.0. Let me tell you what the consequences are. Different states are affected in different ways, but we had testimony in the committee from a mom who said, ‘If the money runs out, I’m going to have trouble figuring out how to pay for prescriptions for my kid.'”
Some states will have enough funding in reserve to keep the program going for a few more months, but a handful don’t. Among them, Arizona, Minnesota, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia are about to run out of money. Most states won’t be able to continue programs into 2018 without the new reauthorization. Community health centers are in the same boat, set to lose 70 percent of their funding by October 1. That could lead to the closure of 2,800 facilities nationwide and the loss of 50,000 jobs, and health care for 25 million Americans.
And just to put a cherry on top of the whole fucking mess, payments to safety-net hospitals is going to expire, too. The hospitals that disproportionately serve the low-income and uninsured are in danger of losing billions of dollars and, again, millions of patients losing access to care. But, hey, things are really looking up for Trump and his cronies when it comes to their taxes next year.