Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono today voted in favor of reauthorizing the State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The legislation aims to provide health care to more than 11 million children in modest-income families. In a bipartisan effort, The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Reauthorization Act, H.R. 2, passed in the U.S. House by a vote of 289-139.
"Close to 24,000 children in Hawaii rely on this program to address their basic health care needs. This bill will not only help thousands of American families obtain affordable, high quality health care, but it also reduces the use of hospital emergency rooms for primary care, which is far more costly," said Hirono.
Congress established CHIP in 1997 to provide health care coverage for children of families that earn too little to afford health insurance for their children, but too much to qualify for Medicaid. This bill will give states the resources and incentives necessary to reach and cover millions of uninsured children who are currently eligible for, but not enrolled in, CHIP and Medicaid.
This bipartisan bill reauthorizes CHIP through FY 2013 and preserves the coverage for all 7.1 million children currently covered by the health program. The bill also extends health care coverage to an additional 4.1 million low-income children, who are currently uninsured.
The reauthorization bill will be fully funded by raising the tax on tobacco by 61 cents. Raising the tobacco tax also promotes children's health by discouraging America's youth from smoking. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a 61-cent increase in the tobacco tax means that 1,873,000 fewer children will take up smoking.
"Hawaii's unemployment rate continues to rise making this children's health care bill more critical than ever," said Hirono. "In these tough economic times, more and more parents are losing employer-sponsored health care for their children, which only magnifies the growing need for this legislation."