Our Health Care Programs Are Being Held Hostage as Congress Fights Over Funding

For 20 years, since two of the Senate’s unlikeliest best friends—Utah Republican Orrin Hatch and Massachusetts Democrat Ted Kennedy—sponsored the Children’s Health Insurance Program, it has thrived and grown and received routine reauthorization and funding. Hugely successful and backed by both parties, it has helped to reduce the percentage of children without health insurance to an all-time low of just over 4 percent. This year, for the first time in the popular program’s history, Congress did not act before a Sept. 30 deadline, creating hardships for states, and forcing some to warn they will stop taking new CHIP enrollees until they are assured of new funding.