Why did Bill Cassidy flat-out lie to Jimmy Kimmel re. children & CHIP?
KIMMEL: "Will the Senate make sure that the millions of children that count on Medicaid don't lose access to medical care because this House bill would cut, they say $880 billion, mostly to benefit wealthy Americans?"
CASSIDY: "Let me answer your question first technically...then more broadly...and then more broadly yet. Most children are covered under the CHIP program, and so they are gonna get the coverage they need. That's almost independent from Medicaid. Under Medicaid itself, though, clearly, if we're gonna fulfill President Trump's sort of "Contract with the American People", that people would maintain their coverage, Medicaid will be a part of that."
I'm not even gonna get into the fact that Donald Trump's word is as worthless as a diploma from Trump University. I'm just gonna focus on the bold section above.
No, Senator Cassidy, "most children" are not covered under the CHIP program. As of 2015, around 8.4 million children were (update: The CHIP enrollement tally was up to 8.9 million last year) ...and that's a good thing, and it is a lot of children...but it's not "most", by a long shot. Another 36.8 million children were enrolled in MEDICAID ITSELF. Combined, that's around 45.2 million children nationally, of which CHIP only covers about 19%.
Last I checked, 19% of any number doesn't count as "most" no matter how you slice it.
Those numbers are from 2015. According to the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center for Children and Families (which I presume knows better than I about such things), the 2016 numbers are even higher: Around 8.9 million children enrolled in CHIP vs. around 37.1 million on Medicaid itself. They also note that around 1.1 million are enrolled in ACA exchange policies, which could be classified as either private or public from a funding POV, but I'm willing to give Cassidy that one). Again, CHIP only makes up around 19% of the total.
Perhaps it's possible that Cassidy was simply misinformed? Maybe he genuinely thought there were more children enrolled in CHIP than Medicaid proper?
Doubtful. He's a physician himself, a long-time member of either the Louisiana State Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives or, more recently, a U.S. Senator. Certainly he's had to consider or vote on numerous bills involving Medicaid, CHIP or both over the years.
In 1998, Cassidy helped found the Greater Baton Rouge Community Clinic to provide uninsured residents of the greater Baton Rouge area with access to free health care. The Clinic provides low-income families with free dental, medical, mental health and vision care through a "virtual" approach that partners needy patients with doctors who provide care free of charge.
That's actually quite awesome. Cassidy's history, along with his promotion of the "Collins-Cassidy Bill" as an at least vaguely reasonable alternative plan to the Godawful AHCA passed by the House, suggests that he really does want a legitimate healthcare system for lower-income people. His appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show certainly seemed to be a sincere effort to find common ground, etc etc.
And yet...he flat-out lied.
Obviously he wasn't trying to say most children in America are covered by CHIP; there's roughly 74 million children total in the U.S.
Kimmel was asking about those on Medicaid...and Cassidy claimed, without any equivocation or caveats, that "most children are covered under the CHIP program".
This is simply false. Cassidy needs to explain himself if he wants to keep his reputation as the "reasonable" Republican when it comes to healthcare policy.
Furthermore, whatever Cassidy himself may think of the CHIP program, it sure doesn't sound like some of his GOP colleagues agree with him:
ACA replacement bill clouds future of Children's Health Insurance Program
Passage of the House Republicans' healthcare overhaul bill may have created political and policy complications for the popular Children's Health Insurance Program, whose funding will end in September unless Congress reauthorizes it.
...In addition, Republicans may seek to delay consideration of renewed funding for CHIP to use it as leverage to get Democrats and moderate Republicans to support their broad healthcare reform legislation, said Joe Antos, a conservative health policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute. Others predict funding for federally qualified community health centers also may become part of the negotiations.
That worries children's healthcare advocates, who argue CHIP — which has enjoyed bipartisan support since its creation 20 years ago — is so important to the 8.4 million low- and moderate-income children it covers that it should be kept out of the looming partisan war over the AHCA. An estimated two million CHIP enrollees have serious chronic conditions.