SCHIP Passes in House
The U.S. House of Representatives today voted to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), expanding it to provide health insurance to an additional 4.1 million children.
SCHIP, which is funded by both federal and state governments, provides health insurance for kids whose families make enough money that they don't qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private health insurance. Growing unemployment is making it more difficult for American families to pay for health insurance.
According to the American Diabetes Association, if current trends continue, 1 in 3 children today will eventually develop diabetes. Health care costs are doubled for people with diabetes--making insurance that much more important for children with diabetes and their families.
In place to be an early victory for President-elect Barack Obama, the bill is expected to win Senate approval and be on Obama's desk to be signed into law shortly after his inauguration on January 20. This hasn't been the only attempt to reauthorize SCHIP, which is set to expire on March 31; twice in 2007, President Bush vetoed legislation that would have expanded the program.
The House voted 289 to 139 to back a bill that would cost an estimated $33 billion and extend the SCHIP program for 4 1/2 more years. Under the House bill, a 61-cent-per-pack increase in the federal tax on cigarettes would finance the program's expansion. The new legislation would also require the states to include dental coverage and would insure children of legal immigrants as well as pregnant immigrants. Current law requires a five-year waiting period for children of legal immigrants.
The Senate Finance Committee is expected to take up a version of the SCHIP reauthorization this week.