It's been 118 days since the Republican Congress decided to take sick people hostage, and allowing funding for community health centers and the Children's Health Insurance Program to lapse. The bad press of keeping 9 million kids and their families in limbo was too much for them, so they finally took care of that in the short-term spending bill they passed Monday to end the government shutdown. But there are still 27 million people—including 9 million veterans and some of those same CHIP kids—who don't know whether they'll have access to care in the days, weeks, and months to come. They're the people who rely on community health centers, and the cuts in care are looming.
Community health centers, which serve more than 500,000 mostly low-income patients a year in Colorado, could be forced to make significant cuts unless Congress renews their funding in the coming weeks. […]
That creates what is, for advocates of the centers, the mind-boggling possibility that the nation is about to lurch from one looming health care crisis to another, all because Congress has not acted to reauthorize money for what are widely supported programs. Last year, when the funding for the centers first expired, dozens of members of Congress from both chambers sent bi-partisan letters to leadership urging swift resolution of the issue. Every member of Colorado's congressional delegation supports extending the centers' funding, according to the Colorado Community Health Network.
"If these kids don't have anywhere to get their health care, it's really pointless to give them health insurance," U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, a Denver Democrat, said Thursday at a news conference at Denver Health's Sam Sandos Westside Family Health Center. […]
"We're not certain if there's going to be funding at all past March," said Polly Anderson, the vice president of strategy and financing for the Colorado Community Health Network.
Denver Health's network for community health centers provides care for about one-third of the city's children, and has halted planning for expanding services. Instead it's pivoting to figure out where to cut back staff and services. Mountain Family Health Centers, which has centers in nine of the state's mountain towns and provides care to about 19,000 people, has already let go about 10 percent of its staff—15 positions have been eliminated—"because of not knowing what was going to happen."
Every time you see a Republican crowing about how much they care about the CHIP kids and their big "win" on the shutdown, remind them of the 27 million children and adults they still have captive.
Jam the phone lines of House and Senate Republicans. Call (202) 224-3121, and tell them to stop holding people's health care hostage.