Three weeks ago, as we laid our heads down to sleep on September 30 and woke up on October 1, most of us were unaware that overnight something devastating had happened. But, unlike Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria, fires in California, or earthquakes in Mexico—this disaster was completely avoidable; it was by choice—or perhaps neglect.
On October 1, our leaders in Washington had failed. The House of Representatives, the Senate, and the President failed to meet a deadline to renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP, a 20 year-old program that has enjoyed widespread bipartisan support, provides healthcare for children from families who are caught in the unaffordable middle; children whose families make too much for Medicaid and not enough to afford healthcare on their own.
Across our country, CHIP provides affordable healthcare services for over nine million American children and their families. In Minnesota CHIP, through Medicaid and MinnesotaCare, touches 125,000 of our children. However, its future is uncertain. In Minnesota we are in one of the most dire situations in the country. Unlike many other states, we have already exhausted our allotment of federal CHIP funds; those dollars have been spent. Minnesota is only able to provide healthcare to these children with the help of an emergency grant state leaders secured from the federal government, and that grant will run out soon. According to state leaders, if Congress does not act, Minnesota will be forced to either reduce children’s access to healthcare, or defund other needed state services in order to make up for CHIP funds. This is unacceptable.
I am invested in this issue because as a community we must speak up on behalf of our children. Greater Twin Cities United Way fights—we fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community across our nine county metro. But we cannot do it alone. Just as United Way fights, I call on our leaders in Washington to do the same. We can and must do better by our children.
Sarah Caruso is president and CEO of Greater Twin Cities United Way. Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn, follow her on Twitter: @CarusoUnited, or leave a comment for her below.
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