Thank you for all your hard work on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization ACT
We would like to take a moment to let you know that we are thankful for you and all you have done to help fight for SCHIP and the over nine million children in America who are without health care coverage.
There is no question that this has been a tough battle, but by taking the time to contact your elected officials you have sent a message that the UCC will not stand silently by while the children of our nation suffer.
After the President vetoed the first compromise bill to reauthorize SCHIP (H.R. 976), a second revised and weaker bipartisan compromise bill was passed by the House in early October (H.R. 3963). This compromise bill will still provide health coverage to approximately three million children. Although this bill passed with bipartisan majority, it too lacked veto-proof majority. Even if the President signs this compromise bill, more than six million children will remain uninsured. Congress has passed a one-month SCHIP extension, a continuing resolution that temporarily funds SCHIP at FY2007 funding levels only through December 14, 2007.
The vetoed bill simply continues a program that has worked well for the past 10 years and extends coverage to uninsured children in low-income families who are currently eligible. The myth that SCHIP will expand eligibility to those families making over $83,000 (400 percent of the federal poverty level) is false. The bill does NOT change which children are eligible for SCHIP. States have always had the flexibility to set SCHIP eligibility at whatever level they deem appropriate for their state. The bill preserves that flexibility and will make it more difficult for states to set eligibility levels above 300 percent of the federal poverty level. Currently, more than 75 percent of those families participating in SCHIP have incomes below twice the federal poverty level.
Currently, Congress has reached a stalemate in attempts to negotiate a veto-proof compromise bill to send to the President, who has indicated that he will veto this one as well. When Congress returns in December, they will either have to reach a veto-proof compromise in the House that would reauthorize SCHIP or – if no agreement is reached – Congress will have to pass a 12 month continuing resolution that extends SCHIP until September 30, 2008 (right before elections). Should this happen, Congress will have to provide additional funding to states in order that they may maintain currently enrolled children.
How To Help
Because we believe that we must get health care for all children, we ask that you continue to write and/or call your Senators and Representatives during the next few weeks.
Thank them for their hard work on the compromise bill because it is a step in the right direction.
Urge them to reject any negotiations that would further weaken the already compromised legislation to reauthorize the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Remind them that current funding levels are not sufficient for many states to maintain current children enrolled in SCHIP. Additional funding will be needed.
Encourage them to transcend partisan politics for the common good of all children.
You may find information about the SCHIP Reauthorization at:
Families USA – www.familiesusa.org, The Children’s Defense Fund – www.childrensdefensefund.org, and UCC Health Justice webpage – www.ucc.org/justice/health.
PRESIDENT KEEPS PROMISE AND VETOS CHILDRENS'S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM!
On October 2, 2007, President Bush vetoed the State Children's Health Insurance Program legislation. An approval of this reauthorizatio woud have provided health insurance for 10 million children. Our children are counting on us to ensure that they have access to the health coverage they need to live and thrive. Must urge our officials to fight back by sending a message to President Bush that his veto is uncceptable and that anything less than $35 bilion for CHIP is insufficient. On October 18 another vote will take place in an attempt to override Presiden Bush veto. We can and must attain the votes needed to override the President's veto by contacting our senators and representatives today!
Click here to see a poignant video by children presented by the Campaign for Children's Health Care!
Click here to read New York Times Article NY Times Article
Here are the results of the roll call votes in the House and the Senate. The Senate has enough votes to override the President's veto. In the House, we seek your help to convince those Representatives who voted against the legislation to switch their votes and instead override the President's veto.
September 2007 Update on the Pending Reauthorization...
1. Both chambers of Congress have passed bills to reauthorize SCHIP, but the bills are very different. The House bill, which includes a higher spending package, includes benefits not int he Senate bill, but includes funding for non-SCHIP items.
2. Conferees have been appointed to resolve the differences.
3. The President has pledgrd a veto of anything that approaches the level of funding being requested by either the House or the Senate.
4. New regulations imposed on states are designed to prvent "crowd-out", that is, to prvent people rom dropping private coverage in order to move to public coverage. The new regulations imposed by the administration says that states that want to expand coverage to famaiies withincome exceeding 250 % of the federal poverty level must show that they have enrolled 95% of eligibile children in families making far less money. The federal government has set the poverty level for a family of four at $20,650. Limiting state's flexibility to meet the needs of its children and families will make it harder to cover uninsured children.
5. What advocates need to do - NOW!
Congress is still working toward the Sept. 30 deadline, when SCHIP will xpire, but signifiant "noise" from the advocate community will be needed to keep it a top issue inlight of other pressing legislative concerns. A concerted push must be strong and immediate!. We must: Urge the reauthorizationof SCHIP before it expires, Urge Congress to push for the strongest conference bill, and Urge Congress to reject any new interpretations of current SCHIP regulations.
6. If you are a national faith leader, you may sign an on-line letter to Congress. Here is the same SCHIP Sign-on letter for National Faith Leaders to print out and mail. If you are a state, regional or local faith leader, you may sign an on-line letter to Congress. Here is the same SCHIP Sign-on Letter for State, Regional and local Faith Leaders to print out and mail.
7. The window of time is short. Please send your letter by Friday, September 24th. A vote is expected that week.
Congress, in its budget, has pledged $50 billon for Children’s Health coverage through the State Children Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) reauthorization. SCHIP must be reauthorized by September 30, 2007. Now the challenge is getting a strong bipartisan bill through the Senate Finance Committee. SCHIP was a great bipartisan achievement and now is the time to strengthen it on a bipartisan basis with a strong reauthorization bill. A Republican Congress and a Democratic President enacted the SCHIP program in 1997. Both Republican and Democratic governors aggressively moved to utilize the SCHIP funding and flexibility to expand coverage for children. Congress must build on this success to help states finish the job. Congress should expand and strengthen the program, particularly by enabling states to cover the millions of children eligible but not enrolled in SCHIP and Medicaid. The Congressional investment of $50 billion for children’s health care needs to focus on improving Medicaid and SCHIP. A timely SCHIP reauthorization will help ensure coverage for children and adequate and stable resources for states.
Ø Dollars dedicated for children’s coverage can be most efficiently and most productively invested in the SCHIP and Medicaid programs. These programs have a proven track record of efficiency and success.
Ø Congress should not divert dollars from Medicaid and SCHIP in order to finance the new monies promised to SCHIP
Ø States need incentives and must have the flexibility to increase outreach and enrollment opportunities.
Ø States should have the option to choose whether or not to implement the mandatory Citizens Documentation Requirement Deficit Reduction Act. States are now required to get two forms of documentation in order to enroll potential families for SCHIP and Medicaid thereby using already limited dollars for costly administrative tasks relating to this Act.
Ø Congress should restore federal funding which assisted legal immigrant children in obtaining Medicaid and SCHIP services. Prior to Welfare reform, legal immigrant children were able to enroll in Medicaid and SCHIP. The passage of The Immigrant Children’s Health Improvement Act (ICHIA) bars all legal immigrants who have not been in the United States for 5 years from enrolling in Medicaid and SCHIP.
Ø Address the growing mismatch between federal funding now available and what states need just to maintain their current caseloads. States need to know that reauthorization will address this shortfall.
Congress must make covering America’s children a top priority by passing SCHIP reauthorization legislation that offers comprehensive, affordable, high quality helth coverage for all children, and provide the necessary funds to do so.
To send an email to your Congressional Representative on the SCHIP Reauthorization NOW, click www.ucctakeaction.org/SCHIP. Emailing in addition to calling will make your voice more effective!