Democratic leaders urge Congress to act, highlight framework for lasting fix

LANSING, Mich. — State legislators in the Michigan Senate and House of Representatives are pushing Congress for a comprehensive, long-term solution to the crisis surrounding the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Funding for CHIP lapsed in September 2017, and without a resolution by December 22, 2017, families of more than 116,000 Michigan children will receive notices in January informing them that they could lose coverage.

CHIP also has a unique impact on Michigan. Much of the Flint Water Crisis recovery resources, including services for health assessments and lead pipe replacement, are tied to the program.

“The news trucks and cameras may not be here every day, but Flint families will be struggling to recover for years to come,” said Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint), who lives in Flint with his wife and two-year-old son. “Congressional leaders like Speaker Ryan, who came to Michigan and made promises to my city, need to live up to them — and that means fixing the children’s health crisis they’ve created.”

On behalf of their respective caucuses, Sen. Ananich and House Democratic Leader Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) wrote to Congress and outlined key elements and recommendations for a final CHIP agreement.

“Children deserve better than to become collateral damage in the partisan warfare that consumes our Capitol — they deserve healthcare,” Rep. Singh said. “This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. CHIP has had strong bipartisan support for decades. It’s more critical than ever for Congress to show that they have at least some ability left to work together and get this done right.”

Their concerns echo that of citizens and advocates across the state and across the U.S., who are demanding that certainty be provided to those who rely on the program. Their recommendations suggest that a final deal must:

· Provide long-term stability. The turmoil, for families who may not have any alternatives, should be alleviated through a multi-year, comprehensively funded agreement;

· Avoid fixing one problem while creating new ones. There have been some suggestions of drastically reducing other important health initiatives to shore up CHIP, which is unacceptable; and,

· Not shift more burden to states. Michigan, like many other states, is already struggling to address numerous budget needs and is ill-prepared to absorb any additional mandates from Washington, D.C.

Pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, who was instrumental in exposing the Flint Water Crisis and leading recovery efforts and lead abatement awareness, recently added her voice to the cause.

“The health of our children should always be our number one priority, and that should go without saying,” Dr. Hanna-Attisha said. “It’s a sad state of affairs when we have to petition our government to fund health care for its youngest constituents. We cannot continue down this path of leaving CHIP funding hanging in the balance — a long-term, stable solution needs to happen now.”

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