2 million kids will lose CHIP coverage right away, report finds

Nearly 2 million children will lose health coverage starting next month if Congress doesn’t renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) by Friday, a new report projects.

Already, state CHIP administrators say, parents are panicking and permanent damage has been done to the program, set up to take care of kids who don’t have health insurance through other programs.

CHIP covers 9 million children across the country. Congress failed to authorize funding in September, and some states have already started warning parents to get their last medical visits in while money lasts.

“Our phones are ringing off the wall,” said Cathy Caldwell, director of the Alabama Bureau of Children’s Health Insurance.

RELATED: Campaign promises that Trump kept in 2017

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Campaign promises that Trump kept in 2017
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Campaign promises that Trump kept in 2017

Nominate replacement for late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

After congressional Republicans refused to hold a hearing for Obama nominee Merrick Garland to replace the late Antonin Scalia, who passed away in February 2016, Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the empty Supreme Court seat soon after taking office in January. At the time, he said, “I made a promise to the American people, if I were elected president I would find the very best judge in the country for the Supreme Court.”

Photo by REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Move U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

Trump announced in December that he planned to recognize Israel’s claim to a city at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict by moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

That would fulfill a 2016 campaign pledge, although he has offered no timeline for the embassy relocation and recently signed a waiver officially delaying any move for six months.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Suspend immigration from terror-prone regions

One of the first major uproars from the left during Trump’s presidency came after he signed an executive order suspending immigration from several Muslim-majority countries during his first week in office.

After a series of drawn-out court battles, the Supreme Court allowed the third version of the travel ban to go into full effect on December 4. The action meant people cannot enter the U.S. from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Chad – fulfilling a promise from a campaign speech that singled out Libya and Syria as two places from which he would suspend immigration.

Photo credit: Genaro Molina / LA Times via Getty Images

Enact lifetime ban on White House officials from lobbying for foreign governments and five-year ban on lobbying their own agency after leaving the administration

The former businessman came into the Oval Office eager to craft an image of someone yearning to prevent politicians from being bound to business interests. So in his quest to “drain the swamp,” Trump enacted an executive order in January meant to limit the sort of lucrative, ethically questionable jobs that former presidential aides have occasionally attained soon after leaving the White House.

Photo credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Withdraw from Trans-Pacific Partnership

Trump formally withdrew from the TPP directly after inauguration weekend on the first Monday of his term. It was no surprise he was in such a hurry to pull the United States out of the pact after railing on the Obama-negotiated agreement throughout his campaign, alleging the trade deal took jobs away from Americans.

Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Make a rule that for every federal regulation enacted, two must be removed

President Trump issued an executive order on January 30 that sought to dramatically reduce federal regulations across the board. The order requires all agencies to cut two existing regulations for every new one introduced, a campaign promise that hailed to his capitalist businessman roots.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Clear the way for energy infrastructure deals, including Keystone Pipeline XL

Within a week of taking office, the president signed two executive orders to move forward with the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, rolling back the Obama administration’s environmental policies in order to increase domestic energy production and bolster the industry’s infrastructure. Obama had famously rejected the $6.1 billion Keystone XL project in 2015.

(Photo by Aydin Palabiyikoglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Keep Guantanamo Bay prison open

In a sort of parallel opposition to president Barack Obama, who repeatedly claimed that he’d close Guantanamo Bay but ultimately never followed though, President Trump promised to keep the maximum-security prison in Cuba open and “load it up with bad dudes.” As of January 2017, 41 detainees remained there, and Trump has made no indication he’ll shut down Gitmo.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Randall Mikkelsen

Implement hiring freeze on federal employees

Trump initiated a 90-day federal hiring freeze almost immediately after entering the Oval Office, putting a halt to the rush of hires by the Obama administration before Inauguration Day in an attempt to fill the ranks with Democrats. Trump framed it as a measure that would “clean up the corruption and special interest collusion in Washington, D.C.”

Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Severely cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget

As a skeptic of human-induced climate change, Trump targeted the EPA as an agency that could drastically reduce costs. Trump appointed Scott Pruitt to lead the agency the former Oklahoma attorney general had criticized for years over its alleged strict regulations.

Though Congress seems unlikely to pass the 31 percent budget reduction proposed by Trump and Pruitt, the president certainly can’t be accused of not trying to significantly downsize it.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Pull out of Paris climate accord

Trump declared in June that he would withdraw the U.S. from the historic Paris agreement that was supported by Barack Obama in an effort to halt climate change. He decried “draconian” financial and economic burdens it puts on American workers. However, he added that he was open to re-entering the accord “on terms that are fair to the United States.”

Photo credit: REUTERS/How Hwee Young/Pool

Lower the business tax rate from 35 percent

Though Trump couldn’t manage to convince Congress to lower the corporate tax rate to 15 percent as he’d proposed, the 21 percent rate presented in the tax bill passed by Congress right before the holidays still represents a significant decrease from the previous 35 percent rate.

Photo credit: NICHOLAS KAMM,SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Eliminate the individual health care mandate established by Obamacare

Less than an hour after the Senate passed the massive GOP tax reform bill in the wee hours of December 20, Trump celebrated the demise of the individual mandate, which was attached to the legislation, on Twitter. The president had been ripping Obamacare for years, in particular, the requirement that punished Americans if they decided to go without health insurance.

However, the mandate won’t be abolished until 2019 since the legislation was passed too late in time for 2018.

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“We have panicked families wondering what in the world they have as options. So it is just very, very stressful here in Alabama,” Caldwell told reporters in a telephone briefing.

The crisis puzzles health policy experts, doctors and politicians, who say CHIP is a universally popular program that's never been made into a political pawn before.

Earlier Wednesday, Democrats in Congress urged their GOP colleagueswho control both the House and Senate to act by Friday. “This is the ultimate bad Christmas carol story,” Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said at a news conference where politicians held lumps of coal.

Related: Millions of kids stand to lose health insurance

CHIP has bipartisan support, but Republicans have been focused on passing a tax reform bill — their first legislative victory for 2017.

“Congress must get CHIP done before they leave for the holidays," said Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Research Center, which issued the latest report.

“Families need the peace of mind that their child’s coverage will not disappear as the new year begins.”

The report finds that 20 states will run short of money in the first quarter of 2018.

“Never before has congress let CHIP funding lapse for this long a period of time,” Alker said.

The continuing resolution that Congress passed earlier this month shifts around $1.24 billion in CHIP funds so that the states running out the fastest get some 2017 money. But that’s at the expense of states that were not running out as quickly.

Related: Letters warn CHIP families they are about to lose out

“In essence, the patch robs Peter to pay Paul,” the report reads.

“The remaining 31 states will see their share of redistribution funds reduced, and thus the timeline by which they will run out of money is accelerated. Despite the additional funds, the 20 ‘winner’ states will only have sufficient funds to operate their programs through January,” it adds.

“All of them will come up short for February.”

Linda Nablo, chief deputy director of Virginia's Department of Medical Assistance Services, said her state has even less money than she thought just weeks ago.

“There’s no good options here,” Nablo said.

Related: Stopgap spending plan leaves out kids' health insurance

Caldwell said Alabama is already making contingency plans.

If Congress provides funding by Friday, the state will not have to freeze its programs.

“If it happens after Feb. 1 … then we’re looking at rebuilding the program,” Caldwell said.

“Even what’s happened so far, I believe, will cause irreparable damage to the CHIP program. It’s already negatively affecting our credibility.”

RELATED: Republicans who voted 'No' on repeal of Obamacare

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Republicans who voted 'No' on repeal of Obamacare
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Republicans who voted 'No' on repeal of Obamacare

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-AK

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Texas

(Photo by Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-WV

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Senator John McCain, R-Ariz.

(Photo via REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio

(Photo via REUTERS/John Sommers II)

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The last time Alabama froze enrollment into CHIP, some families stayed away for a decade after funding was restored, she said.

“It will take us years and years to overcome it,” Caldwell said. “But by far the worst is what’s going to happen to the children who lose coverage.”

Pediatricians say when kids don’t have health insurance, their parents skip needed medical care.

“For some conditions, that can be deadly,” said Dr. Sam Bartle, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at the Virginia Commonwealth University/VCU Health System and president of the Virginia chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

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