Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today after the U.S. Senate passed a bill to renew coverage for the 6.6 million children currently in the Children’s Health Insurance Program and enroll 3.2 million more:
“The Senate did the right thing today in fulfilling our promise to improve the lives of millions of American children, and we did it the right way – in a bipartisan fashion. By renewing and enhancing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), we are combining the best of public and private health coverage to keep low-income kids covered and enroll millions more.
“Ten years after Congress created the program, we have reduced the number of low-income, uninsured children by one-third, covering more than 10 million kids. Today, while 6.6 million children have health care thanks to this outstanding program, the cost of quality health care is still prohibitive for too many. We urge the President – who ran on the promise to enroll millions of more children in CHIP – to keep his word rather than deny kids in working families the doctor visits and medicines they need when they’re sick and the checkups they need to stay well.”
THE CHILDREN’S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM REAUTHORIZATION ACT PROTECTS HEALTH CARE FOR KIDS
Today, a bipartisan Senate coalition offered legislation to reauthorize a vital children’s health insurance program, known as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). With their commitment to ensure children in need have the opportunity to receive the care they deserve, Democrats worked with GOP Senators in crafting a bi-partisan bill that covers 3 million children who are currently uninsured and does so in a fiscally responsible manner.
- The Senate Bill Provides Coverage For Over 3 Million Uninsured Kids. Currently, 6.6 million children receive their health care coverage through the Children’s Health Insurance Program. In addition to preserving coverage for those children, the bi-partisan Senate bill would also cover an additional 3.2 million kids. [Senate Committee On Finance: Summary of Chairman’s Mark]
- The Senate Bill Helps States Increase Enrollment. The bill provides $100 million in new grants to fund state outreach and enrollment efforts to reach more children eligible for CHIP and Medicaid. The bill also allocates $49 million for a demonstration project to streamline the enrollment process for low-income children already eligible for coverage. [Senate Committee On Finance: Summary of Chairman’s Mark]
- The Senate Bill Improves Outreach to Children in Minority and Disadvantaged Communities. In addition to improving outreach to uninsured racial and ethnic minority children, the bi-partisan Senate bill also seeks to increase awareness of the Children’s Health Insurance Program in rural America. [Senate Committee On Finance: Summary of Chairman’s Mark]
- The Children’s Health Insurance Program Has Played a Vital Role in Covering Minority Children. According to Families USA, the Children’s Health Insurance Program has played a vital role in covering minority children. Approximately 50 percent of African-American and Latino children respectively are covered either by Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. [Families USA: SCHIP and Children’s Health Coverage, 12/2006]
- The Senate Bill Improves Mental Health and Dental Coverage. The measure requires states that offer mental health services to provide coverage for those services on par with medical benefits offered under the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The measure also provides $200 million in grants to states to improve dental coverage for children.
- The Senate Bill is Fiscally Responsible. As with the current Children’s Health Insurance Program, the bi-partisan measure calls for a moderate increase in the tax already imposed on tobacco products. Specifically, the measure creates new revenue from a 61-cent increase in the excise tax on cigarettes, as well as a proportional increase on all other tobacco products. [Senate Committee On Finance: Summary of Chairman’s Mark]
- Americans Overwhelmingly Support Increasing Taxes on Tobacco to Fund Children’s Health Care. According to a recent survey, two-thirds of Americans support a tobacco tax increase to fund children’s health care and most want to vote for a candidate who does as well. [American Medical Association Press Release, 6/19/07]
THE CHILDREN’S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM: RHETORIC v. REALITY
A number of groups have begun to spin fictions about the bi-partisan Senate Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization bill. Below are the top misleading arguments being made against the Senate bill and the corresponding facts.
RHETORIC: The Senate Children’s Health Insurance Plan is the First Step to Government Health Care.
REALITY: The Children’s Health Insurance Program is a public-private partnership that focuses on providing low-income children with health care coverage. The Senate measure in fact encourages public and private solutions to cover children.
RHETORIC: The Children’s Health Insurance Program Wastes Money on Adults.
REALITY: The bi-partisan Senate measure curbs adult coverage in three key ways. First, the bill prohibits new waivers for parents and preserves the bar on new waivers for childless adults. Second, the bill calls on states covering childless adults to transition them out of the Children’s Health Insurance Program within two years. Third, federal funding for coverage of low-income parents in states with existing waivers will be reduced after a three to four year period.
RHETORIC: The Senate Bill Amounts to a Middle Class Tax Increase.
REALITY: The Senate bill provides health insurance coverage for an additional 3.2 million low-income children by implementing a modest increase in the excise tax on tobacco products. In addition to an overwhelming majority of Americans supporting an increase in tobacco taxes to pay for children’s health care, higher tobacco taxes will result fewer smokers, particularly among teens.
RHETORIC: The Senate Bill Will Provide Coverage for Families Earning $80,000 and Higher.
REALITY: The Children’s Health Insurance Program is a federal-state partnership where states make the determination as to eligibility levels. Under the Senate bill, any state wishing to offer new coverage for children in families above 300 percent of the Federal poverty level will receive lower matching funds for that coverage.