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Tracy Brown's picture

I knew something was “off” when my husband came home early from work unexpectedly.  His face and body language told me it was something bad.  I thought he was ill, or maybe a fender bender on the way home.  Then he uttered the words I never expected.  “Business is slow.  They just laid a bunch of us off”.

My husband was the bread winner.  He made good money.  His salary paid the bills, the mortgage, and his job covered our family in healthcare benefits.   I worked in Early childhood education.  I loved my job but it couldn’t pay all of the bills alone and there was absolutely no way I could cover the family on health care with my wages and the rates of insurance.

I couldn’t worry about healthcare for myself, but our children were younger.  The germs spread through day care and elementary school like crazy.   What would happen if they got sick and had to be seen by the pediatrician or needed prescription medication?  What about their vaccinations? 

We learned that during these circumstances we could apply for CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) and have our children be covered with health insurance right away without lapse of care.  This was a relief during such a time of uncertainty.

My husband thankfully found a job rather quickly, but the healthcare coverage did not kick in right away.  He had a waiting period before his benefits could start.  After the waiting period, we could all be covered by his new employer.

While we no longer use CHIP, my family’s story is not unlike many families across Pennsylvania and the United States.  Sometimes situations arise beyond our control and families need interim assistance during these periods.  CHIP is a saving grace to ensure that children do not go without healthcare no matter what circumstance their family encounters. 

I implore my representatives to fully reauthorize CHIP funding without exception.  Children’s healthcare should not be a bargaining chip for partisan politics and policy. 

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