6 Ways You Can Help Save CHIP, Because Millions Of Kids' Health Care Is At Stake

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Funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), is swiftly running out. If the grants that back the 20-year-old program aren't renewed by the end of the calendar year, millions of children could lose health insurance. Some Republicans have indicated that they don't plan to vote on funding the program until January, but you can help fight for CHIP funding to let them know that you don't think postponing funding for 9 million children's health care is the right choice.

CHIP provides health insurance for children whose parents make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but who are also not offered health insurance through their employer. Between 1997 and 2012, CHIP slashed the number of uninsured children in the United States by half.

Historically, the program has enjoyed support from both Republicans and Democrats. This year, that changed. When the deadline to renew the program arrived on Sept. 30, legislators declined to meet the deadline. As a result, CHIP, which largely — and sometimes entirely — depends on federal grants issued to state governments, is rapidly running out of funds.

But, as it goes, it is not over until it's over. There are several last-minute steps you can take to get involved and tell Congress that you believe CHIP should be renewed as soon as possible.

Call Your Elected Officials

At the end of the day, members of Congress will cast the votes that decide if and when CHIP funding is renewed. If you don't know who your senators or representatives are, you can find out by entering your zip code on the House website, or sifting through a list separated by state on the Senate's. You can also call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Encourage Others To Call Theirs, Too

Most of the time, you should only call your own representatives. But, that doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't encourage members of other constituencies to take action. Have a friend that lives in another state? A cousin in another voting district? Try reaching out to them to see if they have or are willing to call their elected officials, too.

Attend A Rally

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One place to find a rally or protest near you is through Facebook, where you can easily search all public events. You can also look up rallies near you on the internet. There have been a lot of protests throughout 2017, but the truth remains that numbers matter. The more people who attend an event, the more attention it receives, and elected representatives could well be forced to reckon with the sheer magnitude of concerned constituents.

Alternatively, you could organize your own rally. You may need to apply for a permit or pay a small fee, for example, but that information is relatively easy to find. Usually, it's located on your town hall's website. If that proves difficult to find, you can always call your town administrator. Even the non-emergency phone line at your local police precinct might point you in the right direction.

Tweet At Your Congresspeople

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These days, it seems like everyone is on Twitter — and that includes politicians. More than likely, your representatives are online. And whether or not it is themselves personally or a public relations officer, their mentions are almost definitely being monitored.

If you @ them, you should say just about exactly what you would on the telephone. But remember: What's on the internet is for everyone to see. Make sure to stay polite.

Attend A Town Hall Or A Public Event

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Getting face time with elected officials — especially those elected to a national office — can be difficult, and sometimes, impossible. However, many congresspeople host town hall events, which are smaller events where they speak to a crowd in a high school gymnasium or a church. Contact your local office to find out if your elected officials are hosting one of these events in the next several days or weeks. Then, show up and, when you can, ask them what they're doing to renew CHIP.

Another way you can get some face time with your elected officials is at local public events, where congresspeople show up sometimes, too. Is there a new school opening? A landmark shopping center? If your elected representatives are scheduled to speak or stop by a public event, go to it. If you have a chance to pose a question or shake their hand, ask them what they're doing to ensure that CHIP gets the funding it needs.

Support Organizations Fighting For CHIP

If you are able to, donating to organizations that are dedicated to fighting for the longevity of CHIP can help provide the resources for those willing and able to dedicate their time to the battle. Some organizations to consider are Indivisible, The Children's Defense Fund, and The Children's Partnership.

As the clock winds down, it's easy to feel like making a difference is impossible. But the reality is, there are several significant steps you can take, whether that's personally speaking with your representatives or organizing a public rally. After all, it's your elected representatives' best interest to listen up — you are the reason they have a seat in Washington, D.C. at all.