Wilson Says Children's Health Bill Should be Signed Into Law
Representative Heather Wilson (R-NM-01) says the House made the right decision by voting to continue the successful children's health insurance program. Wilson, who played a key role in encouraging moderate Republican support for the bipartisan legislation, says the President should sign the bill.
"The Children's Health Insurance Program was created 10 years ago and has reduced the number of uninsured children by nearly 25%," says Wilson. "It's a program that works and helps provide coverage for children through private health plans. This is a bipartisan compromise that has been worked out over a number of weeks, and I hope the President will sign it. It is a significant investment in our children's future."
Wilson says the bill is particularly good for New Mexico because of a provision that helps New Mexico keep more of its unused SCHIP funds to bolster coverage for lower-income kids on Medicaid. The agreement allows New Mexico and 10 other states to use all of its unused SCHIP funds for children on Medicaid from families with income between 133% and 185% of the federal poverty limit. This is a major expansion of the provision originally enacted and will help New Mexico use more of its money for low-income children's health that would otherwise be returned to the federal government. This was the top priority of the New Mexico Medicaid agency and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson for this SCHIP reauthorization. Wilson introduced a stand-alone bill earlier this year to help New Mexico keep more of its SCHIP funds for Medicaid children.
"Since enacted in 1997, SCHIP or New MexiKids, has been an important program in covering 25,000 children annually in New Mexico who otherwise would not have health insurance," Wilson said today in a speech on the House floor just before the vote. Wilson was invited by Democrat leaders to speak in favor of the bipartisan bill. "This agreement reauthorizes the program for 5 additional years and makes additional investments to cover more kids and improve the program. 87,000 kids in NM are uninsured, which is the 4th highest rate in the US.
Wilson introduced the Senate bill in the House in July and led an effort with 16 other moderate Republicans last week to encourage House leaders to bring the Senate bill to the floor for a vote. As soon as a bipartisan compromise based on the Senate bill was announced, Wilson announced her support of the bill and worked to encourage other moderate Republicans to support the bill.
The New Mexico lawmaker also says the bill is a dramatic shift from the original House bill, especially for seniors in her district.
"This bill is an incredible victory for seniors," said Wilson, who opposed cutting Medicare Advantage programs as the House CHAMP bill did. "I heard from more than a thousand seniors in New Mexico who are very happy with their coverage and can breathe a sigh of relief now. We have averted a huge cut in Medicare for seniors."