“If Congress continues to do nothing, those nine million children won’t be able to go to a doctor for their annual check-up. Nine million children won’t be able to afford their prescriptions. The parents of those nine million children will have to wait until their child’s headache, or infection, or sore throat becomes an emergency before taking them to the hospital.”
“Allowing funding for CHIP to expire, allowing state governments to go bankrupt, allowing rural hospitals and our community medical centers to shut their doors and go out of business—this is not what the American people sent us here to do.”
Washington, D.C. –U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto delivered remarks on the Senate floor urging her colleagues to re-authorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In her speech, Senator Cortez Masto celebrated CHIP’s long history of providing life-saving health care to children in America and demanded her colleagues act now to ensure that nine million children do not lose access to critical health services. Below are her remarks as prepared for delivery:
I rise today to urge my colleagues to re-authorize federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Children’s health insurance is not a partisan issue in this country. It never has been. In 1997, the bill to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program passed with bipartisan support. It was introduced by the late Senator Ted Kennedy, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and our colleague, Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah.
This program has been a resounding success. Tens of millions of kids from all over the country have received access to preventive care, doctor’s visits, prescriptions, and dental and vision coverage as a result of this act of Congress.
Children’s health care is not a partisan issue in Nevada, the great state that I represent, either. Over the past twenty years, more than 60,000 of Nevada’s kids have benefited from our state CHIP program, Nevada Check-up. Together with the gains we have made due to the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, our rate of uninsured children has fallen by half—making our program one of the biggest successes in the country.
Today, 9 million children from low-income families nation-wide, including 27,000 from Nevada, get their health insurance through CHIP.
If Congress continues to do nothing, those nine million children won’t be able to go to a doctor for their annual check-up. Nine million children won’t be able to afford their prescriptions. The parents of those nine million children will have to wait until their child’s headache, or infection, or sore throat becomes an emergency before taking them to the hospital.
In 2008, the last time funding for CHIP was on the chopping block, Senator Ted Kennedy said that the, “the test of a great nation is in the way it treats its children.
We are a great nation. We know how to take care of our kids. Americans understand that children’s health care is the kind of thing that should be beyond the reach of partisan politics.
Governors from both parties, medical professionals, care providers, and advocates from across this nation have already called on Congress to do its job and move as quickly as possible to re-authorize this funding. Nevada’s Republican Governor, Brian Sandoval, is one of those voices.
Republicans and Democrats alike know that kids can’t go to school—they can’t go to soccer practice—they can’t learn their times tables or their fractions—they can’t do the things that healthy, happy kids like to do if they don’t feel well. Or can’t afford an inhaler. Or glasses.
But don’t ask me why funding for CHIP is important. Listen to the voices of parents who lie awake at night, worried that that cough they’re hearing down the hall, in their child’s room, will not go away on its own.
It’s scary enough to have a sick kid. No parent should have to live with the additional fear that they won’t be able to afford the care their child needs. No parent should have to choose between treating a cough that’s been getting worse and worse for weeks and paying next month’s rent.
People across the country are working hard every single day just to make ends meet. CHIP is their lifeline.
Just ask Lisa, a self-employed mom. Her children are able to see the whiteboard in math class because CHIP allowed her family to afford glasses.
Ask Glenna, whose daughter broke her arm on the monkey bars when she was four. Without CHIP, Glenna would have had to take out loans to pay off that medical bill.
Hear from Vanessa. The excellent health care her daughter received after she contracted meningitis, at age twelve, was paid for with health insurance Vanessa purchased through CHIP. Vanessa says that CHIP is the reason her daughter is alive today.
These are just three of the countless stories I have heard, from people who just don’t know what they would do—who can’t imagine what their lives would be like—if private health insurance were the only option available to their family.
Illness, injury—these things happen. All of us get sick sometimes. But going bankrupt trying to pay for your son or daughter’s medical treatment—that’s not normal. That should not be something we accept as part of our everyday lives.
Every time I go home to Nevada, I hear the same thing, over and over, from the people I meet. They say to me, “My medical bills are out of control. Please do something to help.”
We should be working night and day, around the clock to fix our health care system and relieve the burden of health care costs on working people.
Allowing funding for CHIP to expire, allowing state governments to go bankrupt, allowing rural hospitals and our community medical centers to shut their doors and go out of business—this is not what the American people sent us here to do.
We are the representatives of this great nation. It’s time to act like it and stop playing politics with children’s health.