It’s a Healthy Heart Attack!

To keep America’s children healthy, a program known as CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) was enacted in 1997. This federal program provided states with a large “block grant” to fund a state managed health care program designed to cover children of the working poor. Federal funding currently covers 70% of money needed to run the program and the states cover the other 30%.

The federal funding for this program is set to end in September 2015 and without a reauthorization of the funds by Congress:

  • States will be left scrambling to cover all of the costs until the program expires in 2019.
  • Millions of children could lose the comprehensive health care necessary to grow and learn and become the next generation of healthy and productive citizens.
  • Lives will be lost! Without access to care, our children could die.
  • Good paying healthcare jobs will disappear.

We need to send a loud and clear message to Congress, to keep our children healthy with continued funding for CHIP!

Critical Need: Expanding Medicaid in Idaho, #3

photo of a man smilingDave Lounsberry, Lewiston. A little more than 10 years ago, when I had a good, steady mill job here in Lewiston, I was definitely one of those “doing fine.” After losing that great job and piecing together a living with part-time work, I am now one of those treading the “fine line.”

What scares me most, at age 59, besides watching my friends die, is going without access to health care. I don’t earn enough to qualify for the health care exchange. I would be eligible for coverage under expanded Medicaid – and so would more than 78,000 Idaho residents – but our Idaho governor and lawmakers have remained hesitant about the risk of accepting federal money.

I can tell them a little bit about risk. As a former U.S. Marine, I try to keep myself in good health. But at my age, I know the possibility of getting sick or injured is very real. I could lose everything I have struggled for. Providing health care to people in need is not a risk. By accepting the federal funds we are simply saying yes to bringing our own federal tax dollars back here to Idaho where it belongs. This money will save lives and create new living wage jobs. That is called common sense.

Critical Need: Redesigning Medicaid in Idaho, #2

photo of a woman sitting at a restaurant smiling into the cameraRobin Evans, Grangeville. Together my husband and I share a newspaper delivery contract. Seven days a week, we wake up early to deliver newspapers to neighboring communities. In total we travel an average of 575 miles each week over rural mountain passes and all the papers must be delivered before most people wake up. For all our dedication and commitment , we earn less than $1000/ month.

Shortly after I return home from the delivery route, I prepare for my second part-time job, working in the cafeteria at the elementary school. Combined, these two part-time jobs still leave us without a living wage, without access to health care and without sufficient income to meet monthly expenses.

Our family lives on about $13,000, and for our family size our income falls under 100% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). In Idaho, we are not eligible for health care through the Medicaid program. We also do not qualify for any subsidies in the Health Care Exchange, as subsidies begin at 100% FPL. No access to health care for more than five years played it toll last year on our family and we have racked up hospital bills of more than $25,000 and health issues demanding access. My husband has been unable to work because of medical issues, for which he has no access.

A lack of a decent wage has put us in a precarious housing situation. We are grateful to the generosity of a fellow church member for a house to rent, even though we struggle and fall behind on rent. Still, we keep doing the best that they can to get through each month, relying on community food programs and prioritizing which bills to pay and what medications we can live without. Without access to health care, we are walking time bombs. It’s time to take action and close the coverage gap!