Senate Democrats

Senate Urges President Not to Veto Bi-Partisan Children’s Health Care Measure

Last week, members agreed to a bi-partisan, bi-cameral deal that reauthorizes the very popular Children’s Health Insurance Program. The compromise would provide health insurance to more than 10 million children. Unfortunately, the President has vowed to veto the measure, placing the health care of these children at risk.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said:

“This announcement is a victory for America’s children. In its ten years, the Children’s Health Insurance Program has helped millions of kids, and this bi-partisan deal will build on that success, helping millions more.”

The Bi-Partisan Children’s Health Insurance Compromise Invests $35 Billion in New Funding for Children’s Healthcare. The agreement reauthorizes the Children’s Health Insurance Program, investing an additional $35 billion over five years to strengthen the program’s financing, increase health insurance coverage for low-income children, and improve the quality of health care children receive. [Senate Finance Committee Press Release, 9/21/07]

* Contrary to White House Rhetoric, The Majority of the Kids Covered By the CHIP Compromise Are From Low-Income Families. In his ‘Fact Sheet’ on CHIP, President Bush said his proposal of increasing the program’s budget by $5 billion over five years “maintains SCHIP’s original purpose of targeting dollars to poor children who need them the most.” According to the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, under the congressional compromise the bulk of the children who would gain coverage are poor and near-poor children who are uninsured, not middle-income children with private coverage. [Five Key Myths About President Bush’s Support fort SCHIP Reauthorization, 9/21/07]

* Over a Million Children and Pregnant Women Could Lose Coverage Under the President’s CHIP Proposal. According to the Congressional Budget Office, under the Administration’s proposal, the number of children and pregnant women covered through CHIP at some point during the year would decline from 7.6 million in 2007 to 6.2 million by 2012, a reduction of 1.4 million enrollees. [CBPP Statement On New Congressional SCHIP Agreement, 9/21/07; Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/13/07]

The Bi-Partisan Children’s Health Insurance Compromise Will Provide Health Care for Millions More Uninsured Children. 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 millions of low-income children who are currently uninsured.  Pending final Congressional Budget office analysis, the compromise measure will reduce the number of uninsured children is estimated to be almost four million children. [Senate Finance Committee Press Release, 9/21/07]

* The Modest Increased Investment in CHIP Over Five Years Reflects Approximately Less Than Four Months of Spending in Iraq. Currently, the Department of Defense spends $10 billion per month on the Iraq war. The money proposed over five years for improving the lives of American kids is what the President spends in less than four months in Iraq. [CRS Report, 7/16/07; Senate Finance Committee Press Release, 9/21/07]

The Bi-Partisan Compromise Would Replace the New Bush Administration Rules That Would Deny Insurance For Some Kids. The bill “replaces” a letter to states from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that imposed new restrictions on states seeking to expand CHIP eligibility above 250 percent of the federal poverty level, according to a summary. The provision would phase in requirements for low-income coverage that states must meet in order to cover children above 300 percent of the poverty level. [Congress Daily, 9/24/07]

The Bi-Partisan Compromise 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 Finance Committee Press Release, 9/21/07]             

* 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 Bi-Partisan Compromise Strengthens Dental and Mental Health Coverage for Low-Income Children. The measure, worked out among House and Senate leaders, improves dental and mental health coverage for low-income children. [Senate Finance Committee Press Release, 9/21/07]

The Bi-Partisan Compromise Improves Access to Private Coverage Options.  The agreement expands on current premium assistance options for states.  The agreement allows states to offer a premium assistance subsidy for qualified, cost-effective employer-sponsored coverage to children eligible for CHIP and who have access to such coverage.  It also changes the federal rules governing employer-sponsored insurance to make it easier for states and employers to offer premium assistance programs. [Senate Finance Committee Press Release, 9/21/07]