An inconsolable baby’s high fever. The shriek of a toddler who has accidentally burned his hand. A middle-schooler with an abscessed tooth. The worry about whether a physical or developmental milestone is not met. Many are the moments of fretful helplessness a parent feels when raising a child.
Now imagine what would have happened if your child wasn’t treated. If you couldn’t afford to consult with a doctor. If your child didn’t have access to health care and had to suffer without medicine or treatment.
In Pennsylvania, there are approximately 24,000 disadvantaged children kept from the Pennsylvania Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) because they are undocumented and can’t afford health care. These children could be covered for less than 1/20 of 1% of the state budget. Further, it costs 50% less to insure a child through CHIP versus the average uncompensated care costs for children currently being covered by hospitals and the state. Expanding CHIP to cover undocumented children isn’t only compassionate; it makes fiscal sense as well.
Regardless of your position on comprehensive immigration reform, people of good will can agree that children deserve health care. Eighty percent of these children haven’t been able to go to a health care provider or receive significantly delayed care. Catholics are called to speak up for the vulnerable and voiceless. Who is more vulnerable than a child in need of medical attention?
The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and the Pennsylvania Catholic Health Association have been proponents of CHIP since its inception. Now is the time to make sure that all needy children are given the chance to receive health care by expanding the program to include undocumented children.