Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tell Congress to Pass Children’s Health Insurance Now

A advocacy action alerrt from RESULTS:
Congress is moving rapidly to pass reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), a program designed to provide health coverage to low-income children. The program, created in 1997, was set to expire in 2007. Strong bi-partisan majorities in Congress passed a five-year reauthorization of SCHIP that year, but it was vetoed by President Bush twice. Congress then passed extension of the current program through March 31, 2009, in the hopes that a new president would support the reauthorization bill.

This new SCHIP reauthorization is expected to be similar to the 2007 legislation. It is anticipated to cover 4 million additional children and will be paid for primarily with a 61 cent tobacco tax increase (as in the 2007 bill). A significant improvement over the 2007 bill is removal of the five-year eligibility waiting period for documented immigrant children and pregnant women. The House is expected to remove the ban but the Senate may keep it. Estimates are that if the ban is lifted, 400,000-600,000 low-income immigrant children will become eligible for much-needed health care services.

The Senate Finance Committee is expected to mark up its bill on Thursday. The full House could vote on its SCHIP bill later this week.

TAKE ACTION: Call Congress TODAY toll-free (888) 797-8717 and tell them support children’s health by voting yes for SCHIP reauthorization. Use our SCHIP Call-in Alert to help with your calls. Here are the targets:

Senate: Urge Senate Finance Committee members to pass a bill similar to the House version, particularly including language that removes the five-year wait period for documented immigrant children. If your Senators are not on the Finance Committee, urge them to talk to those members, as well as urging your Senators to vote YES on the final bill. Below is a list of Senate Finance Committee members.

House: Push your representative to vote YES when the bill comes to the floor this week. New members of Congress especially need to be educated about the importance of covering all children with quality health care.

Senate Finance Committee members are: Max Baucus (D-MT), Chairman; Charles Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member; Jon Kyl (R-AZ); Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Ken Salazar (D-CO); Mike Crapo (R-ID); Pat Roberts (R-KS); Jim Bunning (R-KY), Olympia Snowe (R-ME); John Kerry (D-MA); Debbie Stabenow (D-MI); John Ensign (R-NV); Jeff Bingaman (D-NM); Charles Schumer (D-NY); Kent Conrad (D-ND); Ron Wyden (R-OR); Orrin Hatch (R-UT); Maria Cantwell (D-WA); Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)

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