Aderholt Offers Update on SCHIP Negotiations
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) today offered the following update on the bipartisan, bicameral negotiations on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Congressman Aderholt has been actively engaged in negotiations since President Bush vetoed an expanded SCHIP reauthorization measure:
“For the past three weeks I’ve actively been a part of negotiations between Republicans and Democrats, House and Senate Members, to try and find a SCHIP compromise. While I’m disappointed that I’m unable to announce that elusive compromise, I can say that the goal of providing health care coverage to poor children has not changed.
In my mind, SCHIP remains a great example of a federal government program that is working in Alabama. By all accounts, and I agree, Alabama does a tremendous job of identifying and providing health care to needy children at or near the federal poverty limit. The problem is that our successes aren’t being duplicated across the country and I fear that this trend will only grow.
SCHIP should be about ensuring that needy children are receiving the health care that the federal government has promised them. If, as has been the case in negotiations, Congress wants to provide health care to families making up to $80,000 or other adults, we should debate that issue. If Congress would like to give health care to illegal immigrants, that should be debated as well. But, these debates shouldn’t be part of the ongoing SCHIP discussion for a program that’s designed to benefit needy children.
Unfortunately, it appears that we can’t talk about SCHIP without including coverage for families making $80,000 and illegal immigrants. That’s not what the program is designed to do. Politics continues to play entirely too large a role in this process. Therefore, last night I filed a discharge petition that will remove politics from the equation by bringing a SCHIP extension bill to the House Floor immediately.
The SCHIP Extension Act of 2007 by Congressman Joe Barton maintains current law and increases SCHIP funding levels for 18 months. By extending the program, we take SCHIP off the table as a political football. We allow the next Presidential Administration to take action, whether they are Republican or Democrat doesn’t matter at this point, only that the program be reauthorized in a responsible manner. Our constituents expect nothing less from Congress.
Like many Americans, I’m frustrated that partisan bickering and competing interests have derailed SCHIP reauthorization for so long. I remain committed to negotiating a solution that sets politics aside and ensures that our nation’s poorest children receive the health coverage they so desperately need.”