Want to know how people feel about an issue?
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin wants to hear how the Children’s Health Insurance Program has helped state families.
He also wants to know what will happen without it.
That’s why he’s asking for stories to be shared on the Senate floor.
So far, folks haven’t been shy about speaking out.
Social media responses overwhelmingly focus on how much working families have benefitted from the 20-year-old program.
“Most kids who have CHIP are from families with working parents who have jobs that don’t provide insurance.
How frightening to be working hard, and to still not be able to afford healthcare costs,” read one post.
Another agreed, “CHIP is a necessity for middle-class America.”
A mother urged Manchin to keep up the fight: “My children rely on CHIPS. My husband and I both work, making just a bit too much to receive Medicaid.”
But time is of the essence. And the urgency is growing.
Congress didn’t restore CHIP funding when it expired Sept. 30.
That means nine million youngsters nationally hang in the balance.
It’s no better in the Mountain State.
Manchin maintains “partisan gridlock has let funding for this crucial program expire.”
A countdown clock on his website stresses the urgency of this issue at home.
Just 79 days remain until the federally-funded program will be gone here.
“On Feb. 28, 2018, West Virginia will be forced to suspend enrollment in the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, leaving children without access to basic healthcare needs. 21,291 West Virginia children depend on CHIP.”
Last month, the state CHIP board voted to close the program effective Feb. 28 unless word of federal funding is received by Friday.
Most recently the state received $61 million federal money to help provide services like doctor visits, check ups, hospital visits, prescriptions, x-rays and tests.
It also covers dental and vision care, mental health, diabetic supplies, urgent care and additional help for special medical needs.
Children whose parents make too much for Medicaid, but make less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible.
The clock is ticking. Everywhere.
Other states are in a similar position, and are already preparing for the worst.
Virginia officials are among those nationally ready to notify enrollees that the program is closing.
Colorado has already begun telling folks the bad news.
Want Manchin to hear your family’s story?
Email it, along with a family photo (if possible) to email@example.com.