CHILDREN'S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2009
Mr. SCHIFF. Madam Speaker, today I rise in support of the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act. This is a landmark measure which will extend the life-changing benefit of health insurance to an additional 4 million American children. That means millions of parents won't have to bring their child to the emergency room because they're running a fever and have nowhere else to go. Millions of parents who can take their child to a dentist if their teeth hurt. Millions of parents who can take care of their children in a way most families take for granted--that when they're sick, they can go to the doctor.
SCHIP has been an incredible success story, extending the benefits of health care to 7 million children, and more than 750,000 in California alone. These are children whose families have incomes that are too high to qualify for Medicaid but who do not receive health insurance through their employment and can't afford it on their own. SCHIP is based on a simple premise--that insuring kids' health care is the right thing to do. It's much cheaper to insure children, and this investment will yield healthier generations of adults, improved quality of life, and long-term health care savings. The experience of the 11 years since SCHIP was originally created proves the wisdom and prudence of providing care for prevention and wellness in our children.
In addition to reauthorizing the program, this bill improves SCHIP by creating new incentives to seek out millions of children around the nation who are eligible but not enrolled. Two-thirds of uninsured children are currently eligible for coverage through SCHIP or Medicaid--this bill provides greater funding in grants for new outreach activities to States, local governments, schools, community-based organizations, and others. With this bill, more kids who are eligible will get enrolled and stay enrolled for a benefit that they are entitled.
The legislation is fully paid for by an increase in the tax on cigarettes--a provision that I hope will also help discourage youth smoking.
During these trying economic times, and with rising unemployment, the need for this SCHIP bill has become more critical now than ever before. This recession has forced more and more American parents to face difficult choices--finding affordable health insurance for their children shouldn't be one of them.
A vote for this bill is a vote for an America that takes care of its children. In the richest nation in the history of the world, it is simply wrong that millions of children, our most vulnerable citizens, go without basic access to health care. With a yes vote, 4 million more children will enjoy the benefits of a healthy future and a real chance in life. I urge a ``yes'' vote.