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Public Statements

Letter to The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker, US House of Representatives


Letter to The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker, US House of Representatives

Sixteen moderate Republican lawmakers today asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to allow a House vote on the Senate version of the SCHIP bill. Wilson introduced the Senate Bill in July as an alternative to the House CHAMP bill, but her bill never received a vote.

Wilson led the effort to circulate the letter, signed by: Phil English, Deborah Pryce, Wayne Gilchrest, Ralph Regula, Tom Davis, Todd Platts, Jim Ramstad, Judy Biggert, Mark Kirk, Rick Renzi, Jim Walsh, John McHugh, Jo Ann Emerson, Dave Reichert, Mary Bono, Heather Wilson

The Senate legislation would reauthorize the state children's health insurance program for five years and increase the authorized funding for the program by $35 billion over that time. The funding would fully fund current program levels and allow for the enrollment of more eligible uninsured children into the program. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the Senate bill would decrease the number of uninsured children by 3.2 million.

"We would be supportive of consideration of the Senate SCHIP bill and believe it is the best vehicle for extending the program expeditiously," said the lawmakers in their letter to Pelosi today. "The health of the nation's children is too important to delay."

The letter signals that there is support in the House among Republicans to take up and pass the Senate SCHIP bill, a carefully crafted bipartisan compromise that was written by both Republican and Democratic Senators. The Senate bill was supported by New Mexico Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman.

Authorization for the State Children's Health Insurance Program will expire on September 30, 2007.

"It was my hope that we could have a bipartisan SCHIP reauthorization bill that could gain the support of Members of both parties and show the strong support that exists in Congress for this children's health insurance program," says Wilson. "Instead the House has a package that cuts Medicare benefits for seniors to pay for children's health care. The Senate bill makes more sense. It's a more modest increase and expands SCHIP without the devil's choice the House bill presents."

Medicare Advantage

Wilson says increased financing for the SCHIP shouldn't come at the expense of the Medicare Advantage program, which is very popular and widely used in New Mexico.

"We shouldn't disrupt the good coverage seniors already have. Ninety-percent of seniors are satisfied with their Medicare Advantage coverage," says Wilson, who has long advocated for this program for New Mexico seniors. "I am a strong supporter of the Medicare program and would not support cuts to Medicare that reduce benefits for our most vulnerable seniors and limits choices for low-income and minority senior populations."

"There are several New Mexico Medicare Advantage plans like Presbyterian Senior Care, Lovelace Senior Plan, Blue Medicare PPO from BlueCross BlueShield, and the Humana Gold Choice plans. These programs will be forced to drop seniors from coverage or will have to pull out of the Medicare market altogether," warns Wilson. "They may have to reduce benefits, or pay providers less causing seniors to lose access to the doctors they have now."

Text of Letter to Pelosi:

September 19, 2007

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
H232 The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

Madam Speaker,

On September 30, 2007, authorization for the State Children's Health Insurance Program will expire, putting at risk the health insurance coverage of six million children. While the House has passed a controversial Medicare and SCHIP reauthorization bill largely along party lines, the Senate has passed bipartisan SCHIP reauthorization legislation without Medicare provisions. We urge you to take up the bipartisan Senate SCHIP bill to reauthorize the program before it expires at the end of the month.

The Senate legislation would reauthorize the program for five years and increase the authorized funding for the program by $35 billion over that time. The funding would fully fund current program levels and allow for the enrollment of more eligible uninsured children into the program. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the Senate bill would decrease the number of uninsured children by 3.2 million.

We would be supportive of consideration of the Senate SCHIP bill and believe it is the best vehicle for extending the program expeditiously. The health of the nation's children is too important to delay.

Sincerely,

Phil English, Deborah Pryce, Wayne Gilchrest, Ralph Regula, Tom Davis, Todd Platts, Jim Ramstad, Judy Biggert, Mark Kirk, Rick Renzi, Jim Walsh, John McHugh, Jo Ann Emerson, Dave Reichert, Mary Bono, Heather Wilson


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