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U.S. CONGRESSMAN BILL JOHNSON Proudly Representing Eastern and Southeastern Ohio

Opinion Pieces

Put politics aside and fund children's health insurance

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Washington, November 29, 2017 | comments
Amid all the national media noise alleging an unproductive Congress, the House did something substantial on Friday, November 3. My colleagues and I passed legislation that reauthorizes the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Community Health Centers (CHCs), and several other important public health programs - all while reducing deficits for future generations of Americans.
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By Bill Johnson
Published November 29, 2017


Amid all the national media noise alleging an unproductive Congress, the House did something substantial on Friday, November 3. My colleagues and I passed legislation that reauthorizes the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Community Health Centers (CHCs), and several other important public health programs - all while reducing deficits for future generations of Americans.  It is critically important that the Senate follow suit.  

In Ohio, 30 percent of children have health insurance coverage through CHIP.  Our state has some of the best pediatric health centers in the nation, and CHIP allows all children, regardless of their family’s ability to pay, to have access to world class health care.  Community Health Centers provide community-based, patient-centered care to over 623,000 Ohioans at over 280 locations, including 24 locations in Eastern and Southeastern Ohio.  CHCs provide a broad range of care, including preventive care, chronic care, and dental services.  Together, CHIP and CHCs provide a vital safety net to low-income and uninsured Ohioans to ensure their health care needs are met in their communities. The bill also protects hospitals that serve high numbers of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries from funding reductions, and doubles funding to Teaching Health Centers that educate America’s future healthcare providers.

Funding these programs is vital to ensure low-income and uninsured children, families, and seniors can continue to access quality and affordable healthcare.  But, it is equally important to do so without leaving those same children a crushing legacy of debt.  That is why the House bill I supported includes responsible spending offsets that cover the costs of these programs and actually reduce the debt in future years.  Policies like: ensuring millionaire lottery-winners do not continue to receive Medicaid resources; preventing people who do not pay their health insurance premiums from receiving free coverage at the expense of hardworking families who do pay; and, using Congress’s constitutional authority to redirect some funding from the Prevention and Public Health fund away from the executive branch to proven public health programs that have bipartisan support.  These are all commonsense policy measures that will ensure federal resources are directed to the most vulnerable, while reducing the burden of debt on future generations.

In the month since the House acted, partisan politics have prevented any further progress.  While Ohio is operating on supplemental funding from CMS in order to continue providing health care to children, Democrats in Congress are putting politics over people and opposing this bill.  Surely we can all agree that children should not be harmed by an effort to score political points.  I believe we owe it to our neighbors and friends in Ohio who benefit from these programs to acknowledge their importance, and provide assistance for the needs of the most vulnerable among us.   

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