United States Representative Jim Himes today voted for legislation to provide over 11 million American children with health care. On a bipartisan vote of 289-139, the House of Representatives approved, H.R. 2, the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization of 2009, which would allow 7 million children to continue coverage, provide coverage to an additional 4 million children and improve the program's financing structure to make SCHIP funding more predictable and stable for states.
"Modest-income families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid can choose not to purchase their own health insurance, but the children in those families do not have a choice," said Himes, "it is our moral - and economic - duty to provide children with health insurance. Investing in our children pays the greatest dividends and I am proud to have supported this bill to help working families afford health care for their children. "
The SCHIP program was slated to run out of federal funding on April 1, which would force state governments to either fully fund children's health or drop children from coverage. In Connecticut, about 346,000 children are covered through the state's HUSKY plan - and over 71,000 in Fairfield County. Connecticut's SCHIP funding provides support for parts of the HUSKY program which cover over 23,000 children in Connecticut. Without federal support, the cost of providing coverage for these children would be borne by the state. The legislation also provides new reforms to improve the SCHIP financing structure, making it more stable and predictable. States will receive state-based allotments that are responsive to state demographic and national spending trends and allow additional up-front funding for states planning improvements. States that face a funding shortfall and meet enrollment goals will receive an adjustment payment to ensure that no eligible child is denied coverage or placed on a waiting list. The formula also sets in place new overall caps on federal funding to ensure the program's expenditures do not exceed the amounts authorized. The bill provides incentives for states to lower the rate of uninsured children by enrolling eligible children in SCHIP or Medicaid.
"With the Connecticut state government facing a deficit this year, it would be financially irresponsible for the federal government to expect the State of Connecticut to cover all SCHIP expenses," said Himes, "and the reforms in this bill will give the state of Connecticut a stable and reliable funding source to address the needs of working families. By taking some of the pressure off of the shoulders of modest-income parents and our state governments, this bill helps fulfill our moral obligation to our children. SCHIP is an investment that will provide southwestern Connecticut's taxpayers the kind of return they need in these tough economic times. I was pleased to vote in favor of reauthorizing SCHIP funding and look forward to SCHIP providing much-needed relief to families in the Fourth District of Connecticut."