Lost in many conversations about what’s happening in Washington right now is the possible fate of funding for children’s health coverage. More than 100,000 low-income children, young adults, and pregnant women in Michigan alone could lose their coverage. That’s if Congress fails to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Right now, lawmakers are using it as a bargaining chip in Congress’ budget impasse. According to the nonprofit health research organization the Kaiser Family Foundation, CHIP has helped cut the share of uninsured U.S. children from 14 percent to five percent over two decades. The program covers about nine million children and 370,000 pregnant women nationwide.
“The CHIP discussions have just been unbelievable to watch,” says Udow-Phillips. “This is a program that has bipartisan support. It has been a huge boon to so many children across the country, and yet it’s become a pawn in this political discussion in Washington… and children are getting lost in this debate.”
Udow-Phillips says Michigan could withstand this lapse in funding longer than some other states. But she’s concerned about the political will locally to make up for that funding if it does dry up.
“Michigan’s in a good position because we have funding that lasts a little bit longer,” she says. ”But… the state would have to make up for those funds. We haven’t seen a willingness from state government to invest more.”
But, Udow-Phillips says, “they could do it if they wanted to.”
Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.