The House of Representatives today passed a bill to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and to improve Medicare benefits. Representative Dale E. Kildee (D-MI) voted to commit $50 billion to provide healthcare coverage to more than 11 million children nationwide and to protect the health of seniors with critical investments in Medicare. The Children's Health and Medicare Protection Act (CHAMP Act) passed the House today by a vote of 225 - 204.
Due to expire on September 30, 2007, CHIP currently provides healthcare coverage to more than 6 million children of working families. Those children would lose the only insurance available to them if the program is not reauthorized. The CHAMP Act would provide coverage to 5 million additional children, including thousands in Michigan, who are currently eligible but not yet enrolled in CHIP.
In Michigan, 118,000 children who are currently enrolled in Michigan's CHIP program would retain their healthcare coverage. With new tools and incentives, an additional 111,000 uninsured children could receive healthcare under CHIP.
"I am pleased that I can return to my district and tell the people of mid-Michigan that I voted to double the number of children covered by CHIP in Michigan," said Kildee. "Proper healthcare is critical to the healthy development of children in their formative years."
Although President Bush highlighted his support for CHIP while running for re-election in 2004, he has threatened to veto Democrats' CHIP reauthorization legislation.
The CHAMP Act's Medicare provisions are designed to help low-income seniors afford healthcare coverage. The bill would ensure that Medicare beneficiaries, not HMOs, reap the program's benefits and also prevent a scheduled cut in payments to physicians that treat Medicare patients.
"The legislation we passed today makes Medicare stronger and helps to spare seniors from being stuck with higher bills at the doctor's office," said Kildee. "We have also ensured that Michigan's Medicare beneficiaries can continue to visit their own doctors by preventing cuts in Medicare physician payments."
The CHAMP Act also provides relief to taxpayers who will benefit from the elimination of overpayments to private plans in Medicare. In Fiscal Year 2007, overpayments in Michigan amounted to $163 million.