The Children's Health Insurance Program funding fight shows no sign of ending as next week's spending deadline looms, and states and hospitals are mounting increasingly urgent pleas for action.
States now have sent out letters to parents of CHIP-enrolled children warning them the program may not continue. One-third of states project they will run out of CHIP funding by the end of January.
GOP House leaders' continuing budget resolution—which funds the Defense Department for a year and everything else for five weeks—has ramped up partisan tensions over its CHIP package as well as its treatment of disaster funding and other priorities crucial to both Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
For CHIP in particular, the House continuing resolution pays for the five-year funding authorization with cuts to the ACA Prevention and Public Health Fund, shortened grace periods for enrollees in the ACA exchanges who are behind in premiums, and higher Medicare premiums for high-income beneficiaries. The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the bill on a party-line vote.
But amid the political debate, hospitals and their associations are mounting an urgent campaign on social media to bring public pressure to bear on the debate as lobbyists, lawmakers and Capitol Hill staffers cast doubt on whether or not the reauthorization can get done before Congress recesses for Christmas.
On Twitter, the pleas are mounting: the Children's Hospital Association has been tweeting repeatedly with the hashtag #ExtendCHIP. OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland, Ore., joined the American Academy of Pediatricians in a Call to Action Day: the hospital's pediatric residents posted a photo holding signs in support of CHIP and a tweet warning of the millions of kids who will lose their access to healthcare.