Take Action: November 1, 2017 Support healthcare programs for women, children, and the underserved

In Matthew 25, we are told that when we are in Christ’s presence once again, we will be judged for our treatment of the poor, sick, and needy. Currently, as a nation, we are failing at this sacred charge.

On September 30th, three vital programs had their funding precipitously cut: The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Teaching Health Center for Graduate Medical Education program (THCGME, commonly called the “community health center program”), and the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), which offers loan forgiveness to primary care physicians who work in underserved and impoverished areas.

Currently, the US is experiencing a serious primary care physician shortage—one that is predicted to become much, much worse over the next decade. By 2026, we will be short nearly 100,000 doctors. This is a shortage we will likely all feel, but those who will suffer the most will be the poor and the marginalized, especially pregnant women and children. Already, community health centers all over the country are closing due to lack of funding and lack of physicians. If THCGME and NHSC are not renewed quickly, this situation will get even worse.

Likewise, many states are already beginning to run out of funding for CHIP, and many more will run out by the end of the year, leaving nearly 9 million children (and a small number of disabled adults) without any insurance.

Each of these programs are long-running, popular, bipartisan programs. Each of them are absolutely crucial to ensuring the healthcare infrastructure of our country. Each of them MUST be re-funded as quickly as humanly possible.

Here’s how we do it!

  • For CHIP, our best focus right now is on the House. The Healthy Kids Act of 2017 has passed through committee review and is ready to go to a vote on the House floor. Please call your state representatives and ask them to sponsor this bill and to insist that it be brought to a vote as quickly as possible! Once this bill passes the House, we can then turn our attention to the Senate and getting it through there.
  • ·The bill to renew funding for THCGME is HR 3394 / S 1754. Please call your representatives and senators and ask them to support this bill and insist that it be brought to a vote as quickly as possible!
  • We Idon’t have bill numbers for NHSC right now, but please also ask your senators and representatives to support re-funding this crucial program as quickly as possible! The NHSC is, in essence, the med school equivalent of Teach for America, and it’s a crucial link in making sure that community health centers and other underserved populations have the primary care doctors they need.

If you need more convincing or more info on the importance of these bills, here are some articles:

  • An eloquent op-ed from Bernie Sanders that is NOT about Medicare for all, I promise! I would typically not share an op-ed from a former political candidate, but this is one of the best defenses I’ve seen of the community health center program. In particular, I urge you to read the last few paragraphs, in which Senator Sanders details some of the people and clinics who will be hurt by ignoring these bills.
  • A brief article on the bipartisan nature of this push and where it currently stands.