Recently, Congress passed and the President vetoed a new version of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
As Congress prepares for another vote in an attempt to override Mr. Bush's veto, several important facts should be kept in mind.
1) The bill under discussion will provide health insurance coverage for almost 4 million more children.
2) The bill targets only low-income children. The bill’s new cap is set at a maximum of 300% of the Federal Poverty Level or just under $62,000 gross pre-tax income (not net income) for a family of 4. The states have the option of setting their own cap levels. Only 600,000 of the 3.8 million new children gaining coverage under the bill are not currently eligible and would become eligible due to the proposed funding expansions if states so chose. Anyone who tries to pay for private or employer sponsored health plans understands that income at 300% of poverty does not guarantee a family will be able to afford coverage.
If you believe the Congressional Budget Office, 84% of the children gaining coverage under the bill are either on the program now (but without the new money would have to be cut from the program for lack of funding) or are eligible now but not enrolled.
3) Contrary to some opposition propaganda, the bill reforms previous versions of SCHIP and cuts out adults. There will be no waivers under the new SCHIP legislation allowing for the provision of coverage for parents. Those states that have received such waivers in the past will have to transition parents to a separate program with a lower federal match. Further, the bill prohibits coverage for childless adults. States providing coverage in the past for childless adults under SCHIP will no longer be able to do so.
According to our friends at the Center for Public Policy Priorities (http://www.cppp.org/) "if the number of uninsured children grows this year at the same rate as last year, nearly 2,000 additional children will become uninsured every day."
Contact your U. S. Representative and each of your U. S. Senators to urge a vote for SCHIP when it comes up for a vote in the near future.
A vote for SCHIP is a vote for the health of America's children.
[Material for this post drawn largely from information provided by the Center for Public Policy Priorities, Austin, Texas]