Forty-five million. That’s a pretty large number, especially when it refers to human lives. It’s more than seven-times the number of people in our state. And sadly, it’s the number of Americans in this country without any kind of health insurance. There is, without a single doubt, a major healthcare crisis in this country.
Recent reports show that there are an estimated 9 million children without health coverage living in the . This embarrassing statistic makes it hard to believe that we live in the richest, most powerful country in the world. In alone some 117,000 children are uninsured – enough children to fill 2,200 yellow school busses. Fortunately, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is up for renewal in the Senate this week, and we have the chance to make real progress for kids. Additional funding included in the proposal would allow (through MC+ for Kids) to continue covering those enrolled, while also expanding the program to cover many more still in need.
CHIP has proven to be an excellent investment of public resources. Health insurance leads to healthier kids, of course, but it pays dividends in other ways as well. One study found that children from low-income families did better in school after they'd received CHIP coverage. Covering children also saves money in the long-term by providing regular health care and prompt treatment that can prevent serious, chronic health problems.
While I’m optimistic about the possibility of expanding coverage to the millions of American children in need, I’m also extremely concerned that my Republican colleagues in the Senate will try to stop this bill in its tracks. Americans have witnessed the Republican tactics over the last several months as they tried to block almost every piece of legislation Democrats have introduced. They believe that their success is our failure, and, quite frankly, I’m getting tired of this partisan attitude. When this bill hits the floor of the Senate this week I sincerely hope that we can put politics aside and take a necessary step toward ending the healthcare crisis in this country.