Senate Democrats

Democrats Call For Action On Looming Schip Funding Shortfall

Washington, DC — With President Bush ignoring a looming funding crisis in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, Senate Democrats Max Baucus and Jack Reed today joined New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine to call for a commitment to ensuring the security of this critical program. President Bush has so far ignored Democratic calls for emergency funding and has failed to include in his budget the adequate longer-term funding needed to protect the 1.5 million children at risk of losing their health coverage. Under the President’s budget, over the next five years, millions of children who are currently in the program are at risk. Baucus, Reed, and Corzine expressed their concern that the President failed to provide adequate resources to the program and missed an opportunity to expand coverage to the millions of low-income children who are eligible for the program but not enrolled. To maintain even existing coverage levels this year, fourteen states across the country are in dire need of increased funding. This fiscal year alone, New Jersey faces a shortfall of $119.3 million, and Rhode Island faces a shortfall of $30.3 million. Democrats believe it is wrong to undermine health care coverage for children fortunate enough to have it, and are fighting to take America in a new direction. "Congress has to do right by America’s kids, and so making sure the Children’s Health Insurance Program is there for families that need it is my first health care priority this year," said Senator Baucus. "It will take some heavy lifting just to keep coverage for kids who are already in the program, but I want to do more to reach the six million children who are eligible for public health programs but who just aren’t enrolled. Working together, we can deliver a renewed and improved health insurance program to America’s children this year. Our kids are counting on us." "When a child gets sick or breaks an arm, they should get to see a doctor, regardless of their parent’s income level. SCHIP is a vital safety net for many Rhode Island families. It has successfully helped thousands of young people get the medical care and assistance they need," said Senator Reed. "Instead of making it harder to enroll low-income children, we should be seeking ways to expand successful programs like SCHIP so we cover more kids and families who need it." "This is yet another example of the misplaced priorities of this administration, and I am proud that the new majority is taking steps to protect our children’s health and ease the burden on states across the nation," Governor Corzine said. "This administration has not done its part, and states have been struggling with the consequences. I look forward to working with our delegation, Majority Leader Reid, Senators Baucus and Reed and others to ensure that this administration lives up to its obligations." Fiscal Year 2007 SCHIP Shortfalls by State:

Alaska $12.5 million
Georgia $128.5 million
Illinois $242.6 million
Iowa $15 million
Maine $500,000
Maryland $62.5 million
Massachusetts $87.7 million
Minnesota $15.8 million
Mississippi $23.7 million
Missouri $3.3 million
Nebraska $100,000
New Jersey $119.3 million
Rhode Island $30.3 million
Wisconsin $2.8 million