The Catholic University of America

CUA Law Professor Robert Destro was quoted in a Jan. 18 National Catholic Register article entitled "Children’s Health Insurance Program Becomes Political Football" See below. 

Children’s Health Insurance Program Becomes Political Football

From: National Catholic Register
Date: Jan. 18, 2018
By: Brian Fraga

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a popular government benefit supported by Democrats and Republicans alike, is seen by many analysts as a cost-effective way to provide health coverage for children whose parents cannot afford private insurance.

But CHIP’s federal funding is in limbo because the program is getting tied in with larger political debates in Congress pertaining to immigration policy. Even with the threat of a possible government shutdown looming, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were still unable to reach an agreement on funding CHIP as of Jan. 18.

“This could be a quick, easy victory for Congress, where they could come together in a bipartisan way and do something that’s great for kids. It’s not really that heavy a lift, but they just haven’t been able to get it done,” said Joan Alker, executive director of Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families.

Alker told the Register that the lack of a congressional agreement has been “frustrating,” adding that families who rely on CHIP for their children’s health care have been worrying for months that the money will soon run out for their insurance coverage.

“There’s really no excuse for it, since they’ve had a bipartisan agreement on this for quite some time now,” Alker said.

The program ran out of federal funding in October. Congress subsequently passed a $2.85-billion stopgap spending bill intended to keep CHIP running through March, but various estimates indicate that some states could start running out of money by late January.

Georgetown’s Center for Children and Families estimates that 1.7 million children in separate CHIP programs in 21 states could lose their coverage by the end of February. Beginning just before Christmas, families in several states began receiving letters warning them of the program’s possible termination.

“We would expect that most of these children would become uninsured,” said Alker, adding that some of those families could find insurance on the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges, though the coverage there, she said, does not offer the same comprehensive pediatrics coverage as CHIP.

. . .  

Several Democrats have insisted that their immigration demands be included in any temporary spending bill. Lawmakers on both sides have been accusing each other of brinkmanship and unnecessarily risking a shutdown when the federal government runs out of money Jan. 19.

“In the end, rightly or wrongly, the Democrats believe that DACA is a winning issue,” said Robert Destro, director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America. Destro was referring to “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” a policy crafted by President Barack Obama that would avoid deporting people who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

Destro also told the Register that he believes complicating congressional negotiations is that the Republicans are more fractured while Democrats are “consistent” on issues like health care and immigration.

Said Destro, “When you look at the Republicans, they’re at odds with each other on the basics, so it’s harder for them because they have to negotiate within their own party as well as against a very organized and disciplined opposition.”

Destro added: “But at the same time, for the Democrats, how much are they willing to hold everything else hostage to DACA? In the end, you have to figure out which problems you’re going to solve in what order.”

Click here to view the article.

Robert Destro  

Professor Robert A. Destro's
Areas of Expertise

International Human Rights

Freedom of Religion, Speech,
and Association


For additional information about our professors' areas of speciality, see the Catholic University Experts page.