This has been embedded in my memory, coloring everything moving forward. Leaving everything behind, no money, no home, no ability to communicate - I often think about what courage it took to take this step (although the alternative was not an option) and all the families that continue with similar struggles. I'm not sure I would have the strength to succeed the way they did. I am so very grateful for the help my parents received at that moment. Government assistance programs, particularly those effecting medical care for children, are particularly important to me due to this journey.
Feb. 4, 2014, marked the five year anniversary of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Reauthorization Act. 131,898 children in Maryland rely on Maryland Children's Health Program - MCHP - Maryland’s CHIP program to help meet their medical needs and more then 50% of the children in the US rely on the mixture of Medicaid and CHIP.
Through MCHP, children receive medical and dental coverage and access to mental health and substance abuse services, which aren’t always covered by private insurance. And since families whose children qualify for MCHP may earn too much to be eligible for Medicaid but too little to afford private coverage, this program has become a lifeline for more than 8 million children across the country.
The Affordable Care Act ACA extended CHIP through 2019, the program is only funded through 2015. Congress must reauthorize the program without delay, with funding through at least 2019. Uninsured children are three times more likely than insured children to lack access to a needed prescription medicine, five times more likely to have an unmet need for medical care and thirty percent less likely to receive medical treatment if they are injured. I can not imagine what a family would go through if their child had an accident like mine did, earned $40,000 a year, and was stuck with $10,000 in hospital bills. (Imagine if the child had cancer or some other chronic condition requiring tens of thousands of dollars of care). There is no way to get out of a rut like that. On top of the incredible stress of your baby being hurt, we are piling financial stress on families, as if they had room for that in their psyche. And we all know that stress begets stress. It is a vicious cycle, difficult to break, to say the least.
CHIP is a bipartisan program with a strong track record of successes, at a time when nearly one in five children lives in poverty. Yes, this is a true statistic. Don't get me started on that one. We have to invest in this program. We can not make children and families sink at times of greatest need.
Please consider reaching out to your representative and expressing your concerns.