Aderholt Launches Effort to Save Children's Health Insurance Program
October 17, 2007
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) last night offered a resolution on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives calling for immediate consideration of a bill to save the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and provide health care to needy children. H.R. 3584, the SCHIP Extension Act of 2007 by Congressman Joe Barton (TX-06), currently has 139 co-sponsors but has yet to have any action taken on it.
“Politics has played entirely too large a role in this issue,” said Congressman Aderholt. “It’s time that everyone remembers what’s important in this debate: providing health insurance to needy children. That’s what a Republican Congress and a Democrat President did in 1997. There’s no reason a Democrat Congress and Republican President can’t do the same in 2007.”
On October 3, 2007, President Bush vetoed a SCHIP bill that expands the program by $35 billion, raises the household income eligibility requirements up to $83,000, and also makes it easier for illegal immigrants to join. The House is expected to vote to uphold that veto on Thursday.
Congressman Aderholt added, “The SCHIP Extension Act is a bill that I believe would enjoy wide support among both parties if given a fair chance. We need to ensure that political maneuvering does not result in needy kids currently enrolled being cut from the program. The longer this stalemate continues the more likely that scenario becomes. We can all agree to extend the current program while we seek a consensus to make it better.”
The SCHIP Extension Act was introduced by Representative Barton on September 19, 2007 and referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. It maintains current law and increases funding levels for 18 months. In Fiscal Year 2008 it provides for $6.5 billion in funding and $3.6 billion for the first 6 months of Fiscal Year 2009. These figures represent a $1.5 billion and $1.1 billion increase respectively. These funds are in addition to the states’ roll-over amounts. By guaranteeing current funding levels, and even increasing funding, the program remains secure while the political debate continues in Washington.
According to estimates by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the funding increases in the SCHIP Extension Act will ensure that no State would have to reduce their SCHIP benefits package or change their current SCHIP eligibility standards due to a lack of Federal funding. Stated simply, this bill fully funds SCHIP for the entire 18-month period and actually increases total Federal SCHIP funding by more than 33% over current levels.
By offering his resolution to the House Rules Committee, Congressman Aderholt is demanding that H.R. 3584 be removed from the Energy and Commerce Committee and placed immediately on the House Calendar for consideration.
Aderholt concluded, “I’ve been asked to place children above politics. Last night’s action clearly does just that. I would encourage all of my colleagues, Democrat and Republican, to join my efforts and support our nation’s most vulnerable children. If we are honest with ourselves and put politics aside, this is something everyone should be able to support.”