This year, Healthy Schools Campaign worked hand-in-hand with you to defend Medicaid as it was repeatedly threatened. Thanks to all of you, and people across the country, policymakers heard loud and clear that Medicaid is important for children and families, important to school success and important for the future health of our nation. Advocacy and storytelling—in town hall meetings, in Congressional offices and in the press—made a difference, and, together, we protected coverage for children and families.
But the fight is far from over. In the past month, the administration announced plans to end cost-sharing subsidies and congress let a key deadline for insurance funding pass. Here are three ways to keep advocating for children’s healthcare.
- Congress must act immediately to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The 20-year-old CHIP program covers nine million children and is incredibly effective, with Medicaid and CHIP coverage insuring about one in every three children in the United States. CHIP has broad bipartisan support, and key Congressional Committees have already passed a bipartisan bill to fund CHIP for five years. But nevertheless, Congress let funding expire on Sept. 30. Unless they act immediately, many states will run out of money to cover this vulnerable group of children. And, because states created their budgets for this year with the assumption that CHIP would be reauthorized, many will be in dire financial straits, and it will be hard to recover even if Congress eventually reinstates the program. The impact on vulnerable children of failing to reauthorize CHIP is hard to overstate. Senate and House leadership must make children’s health insurance a priority and pass funding for CHIP.
- Congress might try to cut Medicaid or other health insurance programs. Over the next several months, Congress will consider budget bills and tax reform proposals and may attempt to advance health care policy objectives that undermine the ACA at the same time. Or Congressional leaders may try to “pay for” tax cuts with deep cuts in Medicaid or other entitlement programs. Advocates will need to continue their efforts to highlight the voices of children and families and the critical role of health insurance, even when the legislation under discussion isn’t strictly a healthcare bill.
- Medicaid could be threatened by waivers or other administrative actions. There will be efforts by the federal government and by states to change the Medicaid program through waivers or other administrative actions. These efforts could impact children but may also have a disproportionately negative impact on parents and other adults. Just as we did during the repeated attempts to repeal the ACA, we need to remain vigilant and act when necessary.
The threat to children’s health insurance coverage is real and the landscape is ever shifting. But advocates are prepared. Healthy Schools Campaign, in partnership with colleagues across the country, will continue to alert you of upcoming advocacy efforts. The most important thing you can do right now is to tell your story to policymakers at the federal, state and local level. Why are Medicaid, CHIP and the ACA so critical to the children and families you serve? What will happen if the coverage goes away? This summer proved beyond a doubt that this type of advocacy makes a difference—so keep it up. Together, we can protect and strengthen health care for children, families and all of us.