Wilson Leads Effort in Congress for Children's Health Insurance
Congresswoman Heather Wilson wants to keep New Mexico kids healthy, and she's leading an effort among centrist Members of Congress to fight for a federally-funded children's health program that has expanded health insurance for kids. Blue Dog Democrats and Main Street Republicans are working together in Congress to advocate for the Children's Health Insurance program. Wilson today visited a health clinic in Albuquerque to see first-hand how the program provides wellness care for New Mexicans, and announced her efforts in Congress on behalf of the program.
In New Mexico, the program is more commonly known as New MexiKids.
Wilson joined forces with Rep. Marion Berry (D-AR) to write a letter to Budget Chairman John Spratt (D-SC)and Ranking Member Paul Ryan (R-WI) asking the Budget committee to include sufficient funding to continue the success of the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
The program is up this year for its ten-year reauthorization in Congress and Wilson serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee with jurisdiction over the program. SCHIP is funded jointly by the state and federal governments. In New Mexico, the federal match is 80.35% for FY 2007, which in essence means the state receives $8 for every $2 it spends for the program.
"In New Mexico, the S-CHIP program has allowed 19,000 kids each year to have health coverage," says Wilson. "It's an important program that keeps kids healthy, and we need to support it. As we work on legislation to reauthorize the program, I will work on improvements to make it more flexible for states like New Mexico."
"Children are our future and we must always fight for their needs to ensure they have the best chance for a successful tomorrow. Providing adequate healthcare for children is not only necessary, it's the right thing to do and I'm pleased to see my fellow colleagues put aside partisan differences to do what's best for the kids," said Berry.
Wilson and Berry co-wrote a letter and asked fellow Members of Congress to sign on. The letter, sent today to House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt and ranking-Member Paul Ryan, bears the signature of 76 of Wilson's colleagues. Twenty-nine are Republicans, while forty-seven are Democrats. Most of the members signing the Wilson/Berry letter are members of one of two centrist groups of House members: The Blue Dog Democrats and the Republican Main Street Partnership.
"This is the first collaborative effort of the year between our two groups," says Wilson. "But I certainly don't think it will be the last. There are many issues we can work on together, and children's health is an area where pragmatic legislators of both parties can provide leadership."
"The March of Dimes commends Congresswoman Heather Wilson for leading a bipartisan group of Representatives in this effort to secure increased funding for SCHIP reauthorization to cover more pregnant women, infants and children," says Loretta Quintana, the director of the New Mexico chapter of the March of Dimes. "SCHIP reauthorization is a critical opportunity to insure that no one currently relying on the program loses their health coverage and to significantly reduce the number of pregnant women, infants and children who are currently uninsured. We look forward to continuing to work with Representative Wilson and her colleagues in Congress toward this extremely important goal."
"Congresswoman Wilson realizes the importance of SCHIP to children in New Mexico and I'm glad she has chosen to take on funding for the program and reauthorizing it this year as an issue important to her and all children in New Mexico," says David Roddy, the Executive Director of the New Mexico Primary Care Association.