Senate Democrats

Pelosi And Reid Urge Bush To Prioritize Spending For Schip

Washington, D.C.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wrote to President Bush today asking that he submit a spending proposal separate from his upcoming emergency supplemental appropriations request to cover shortfalls in funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Below is the text of the letter:

February 2, 2007

Dear Mr. President: We understand you plan to submit a request for emergency supplemental appropriations soon which news reports indicate could exceed $100 billion. As you consider the emergency needs of our nation, we respectfully request that you not forget the millions of low-income Americans who are insured under the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). We ask that you submit a separate spending proposal to cover shortfalls in SCHIP for Fiscal Year 2007 which have been estimated to be $745 million. Unless we act quickly to provide additional funds to this important program, we are putting the health coverage of thousands of Americans in jeopardy. As you know, over 46 million Americans are without health insurance. We can ill afford to increase the rolls of the uninsured for failure to adequately fund a successful and efficient insurance program such as SCHIP. Yet we know that at least fourteen states will face a shortfall of SCHIP funds within months. The Governor of Georgia has written to us stating that "It is vitally important to our most needy citizens that Congress act expeditiously." At the end of the last Congress, we were successful in including a provision to avert a similar crisis, but unfortunately, we are again in need of another short-term solution. While we plan to work in Congress later this year to reauthorize SCHIP and address longer-term issues, it is essential that you work with us to again provide a short-term fix. The cost of filling the funding shortfall is minor in comparison to your other emergency requests. SCHIP has become a vital part of our safety net, providing health care coverage to millions of Americans who otherwise would be uninsured. Including funds to address fully the looming SCHIP shortfall would assure that states can continue to provide this important coverage while we work to address the longer-term success of the program. Sincerely, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader

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