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Continued Government Shutdown Could Result in Millions of Kids Losing Health Care

As the vote to delay the shutdown approaches, Republicans are asking Democrats to choose between CHIP and DACA.

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Today at noon, the Senate will hold a vote to reopen the federal government after it was shut down on Friday when Democrats and Republicans could not reach a budget compromise in time. The new, temporary, spending bill will allow the federal government to be funded for three weeks in hopes the measure gives the two deadlocked parties enough time to come up with a long-term solution. However, if the vote does not pass, it could mean that approximately 1.7 million kids across America lose their health coverage over the next few months as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) loses federal funding.

CHIP has been unfunded since summer of 2017, thanks to Congress and remains unfunded due to the government shutdown. By March, several states could be left without the federal funding needed to finance CHIP. That would mean more than 1.5 million kids could no longer have access to the medical treatment they have come to rely on. Overall, CHIP provides affordable health care for an estimated nine million children in America. The spending bill being offered up by Senate Republicans would allow for CHIP to be federally funded for the next six years.

This may seem like a no-brainer bipartisan win but, of course, nothing in politics is ever that simple. Both sides are unsure if the vote will pass, as Democrats and Republicans remain divided on several key issues. While Democrats are desperate to get CHIP the federal funding it needs, they are unwilling to support a vote that doesn’t include some form of a promise for so-called “Dreamer” left uncertain after Trump’s plan to end DACA. Without this show of support from Republicans, Democrats fear that Trump will be able to permanently destroy DACA, which could mean countless families are torn apart by aggressive immigration policies. Hopefully, the two sides are able to figure out an agreement in time to ensure that CHIP is no longer in danger of running out of money.