Chubby cheeks and precocious utterances can make the most cynical person smile. After all, even people who believe adults are a lost cause tend to empathize with children. Throughout cultures across the globe, people understand children did not ask to be here. Children need adults to advocate for and support their well-being. Additionally, in the natural order, healthy children become healthy adults who contribute to society. The cycle continues.

But when children are at risk of doing without their needs, by experiencing inadequate health care, the call should reverberate and people in power should drum up the funds to keep the vulnerable protected. However, late last week Congress allowed a program that protected about nine million American children to lapse.

The Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) ensured health care for children in lower and middle income families. Further, pregnant women benefited from CHIP. As it stands, beneficiaries will not immediately lose coverage because states have untouched funds that serve the same purpose. However, additional federal money cannot flow in until lawmakers approve and some states will likely deplete their reserves before the year ends. A manageable situation could become a crisis through inaction.

Former Florida representative Alan Grayson appealed to lawmakers’ and constituents’ sensibilities in a column for the Orlando Sentinel. Grayson also revealed that some legislators held a class-based punitive perspective about health care. These politicians apparently believe children whose parents lack financial resources should not receive adequate health care.

“I knew House members who sincerely believed that if the parents don’t have the money to pay for their children’s health care, then the children should suffer,” Grayson wrote. “In fact, there must be at least 218 House members who felt that way on Saturday night, or the program would not have expired.”

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