Higgins Lauds Passage of Bipartisan Legislation Expanding Healthcare to Millions of Children
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) today voted for, and the House passed H.R. 2, State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) Reauthorization bill. The legislation, which passed by a bipartisan majority of 289-139, will provide much-needed healthcare coverage to 11 million children.
“During the current economic crisis, a safety net for our nation’s most vulnerable children is more critical than ever,” said Higgins. "With more than 2.6 million jobs lost last year alone, Americans are seeing the healthcare they and their children depend on disappear. Helping to provide access to affordable health care coverage is an important step forward in improving economic security and quality of life for American families struggling during these difficult times.”
The bill reauthorizes SCHIP- known as Child Health Plus in New York State- for four and a half years and ensures that the 7 million children who currently participate in SCHIP continue to receive coverage, while expanding coverage to 4 million uninsured children. The program covered 651,853 children in New York State in Fiscal Year 2007.
The bill also gives states the resources and incentives necessary to reach and cover millions of uninsured children who are eligible for, but not enrolled in, SCHIP and Medicaid. Two-thirds of uninsured children are currently eligible for coverage through SCHIP or Medicaid – but better outreach and adequate funding are needed to identify and enroll them. The bill includes $100 million in grants for new outreach activities to states, local governments, schools, community-based organizations, safety-net providers and others to streamline the enrollment of eligible children.
The SCHIP reauthorization also improves benefits by ensuring dental coverage and mental health parity. Under the bill, quality dental coverage will now be provided to all children enrolled in SCHIP. The bill also ensures that states will offer mental health services on par with medical and surgical benefits covered under SCHIP.
SCHIP was created in 1997 to provide health care coverage for children in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private insurance, and has proved a successful and cost-effective program for providing health care.