CONGRESSMAN ANDREWS VOTES FOR SCHIP TO EXTEND HEALTH CARE TO MORE CHILDREN
Today, Congressman Andrews (D-NJ) voted for H.R. 2, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) Reauthorization that will provide health care coverage for 11 million children. This bipartisan bill, which passed at 289 to 139 margin, appears among the first order of business for the 111th Congress and it is intended to reach President-Elect Obama's desk in his first few weeks in office. Rep. Andrews is confident that SCHIP, which was vetoed twice by President Bush, coincides with President-Elect Obama's plan to attain affordable, accessible health care for all Americans.
In New Jersey, about 150,000 children were enrolled in SCHIP in FYO7. Yet, with the passage of this legislation, approximately 85,000 children in New Jersey will be added. Thus, nearly 28,500 additional children in South Jersey will now be covered under the newly extended SCHIP, for a total of approximately 78,500 covered in South Jersey alone.
Specifically, this bill expands upon the original SCHIP, not only preserving coverage for the 7 million children who currently participate in the program but also by extending coverage to 4 million uninsured children who are currently eligible for, but not enrolled in, SCHIP and Medicaid. SCHIP was created more than 10 years ago as an effort to provide health care coverage for children and families whose income exceeds the threshold limit to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private insurance. While this program benefits the children and families who cannot afford private insurance, it has also proven to be a much more cost-effective plan for tax payers. Under SCHIP, families who cannot afford private insurance will not be forced to seek tax-funded emergency room care for all illnesses; rather, low-income families will have more immediate access to less costly primary care, resulting in a healthier community and less need for expensive care down the line.
As our country faces its highest unemployment rate in 16 years, this bill will provide much needed relief for struggling families who cannot afford private insurance. Additionally, this bill includes a provision - supported by the American people - that give states the option of extending coverage to legal immigrant children who have been in America for less than 5 years. Additionally, SCHIP provides $100 million in grants for new outreach activities to states, local governments, schools, community-based organizations, safety-net providers and others who cooperate to maintain a healthy community. Most importantly, SCHIP is fully paid for by increasing the tobacco tax by 61 cents and by generating income through specific restrictions on self-referral to physician-owned hospitals.