Call Of The Day: Advocate For The Renewal Of CHIP Funding

The House has passed the highly partisan HR 3922, which pays for CHIP reauthorization by eviscerating funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund; a path forward for CHIP funding remains unclear.  If Congress does not reauthorize CHIP funding by this Friday,  December 8th, programs will begin 2018 without funding.

The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a program that annually insures nearly 9 million children (and, in some states, pregnant women) whose families' incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid, but too low to afford commercial health insurance.  Congress allowed the federal funding for CHIP to expire on September 30th, and since Congress didn't pass a bill renewing CHIP's funding before Thanksgiving, states will start exhausting their federal CHIP money this month, endangering millions of children's healthcare access.

It was Nov. 3rd, when the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 3922 to renew funding for CHIP (and community health centers, whose federal funding also expired on 9/30) for five years, but the bill is unlikely to get a vote in the U.S. Senate.  As mentioned above, HR 3922 pays for the programs by cutting 75% of funding for the ACA's Prevention and Public Health Fund.  Slashing this crucial funding, as former Centers for Disease Control & Prevention director Tom Frieden has noted, will put Americans "at greater risk from vaccine-preventable disease, food-borne infections, and deadly infections contracted in hospitals."  The bill will also fund CHIP by reducing others’ health insurance access.  It would reduce individual insurance market consumers' grace period to pay their premiums before losing insurance from three months to one, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will lead to 500,000 losing health insurance coverage.  HR 3922 also eliminates the safety net coverage that Medicaid and CHIP provide for pregnant women and children while they are actively seeking another source of health insurance coverage.

The Senate has yet to agree on a bipartisan funding source for CHIP reauthorization, meaning they could sign off HR 3922's highly partisan funding provisions.  It is unacceptable to use CHIP funding as a bargaining tool to win partisan victories, cut critical public health initiatives, and undermine popular aspects of the ACA.

WHO TO CALL: Senators Kennedy and Cassidy

Senator Bill Cassidy: DC Office: 202-224-5824; Metairie office: 504-838-0130; Monroe: 318-324-2111; Lake Charles 337-493-5398; Alexandria: 318-448-7176
 
Senator John Kennedy: DC office: 202-224-4623; New Orleans: 504-581-6190; Lafayette: (337) 269-5980; Monroe: (318) 361-1489; Alexandria: (318) 445-2892; Baton Rouge: (225) 926-8033; Shreveport: (318) 670-5192

Reminders: Identify where you're calling from (town and zip code is fine) so they know you're an actual constituent.  Be concise - the office will get through more calls that way.  Be polite and don't argue with the staffer - they don't set policy.  If you get a voicemail, then leave a message.  And if you get a busy signal -- call back later!

Sample Script:

Hi, my name is [Your Name] and I’m a constituent from New Orleans, zip code 70118 [or wherever you're from].

I'm calling to urge the Senator to advocate for a bipartisan approach to the immediate renewal of CHIP funding and oppose the House-passed funding bill, HR 3922.  Millions of children rely on this funding for insurance, and its reauthorization should not be used to score partisan victories like massive cuts to the ACA Prevention and Public Health Fund.

Thank you so much for your time.

[IF LEAVING A MESSAGE: Please leave your full address to ensure your call is tallied.]

This call is adapted from 5calls.org.