Rep. Foster Votes to Extend Children's Health Care Coverage
Today, Representative Bill Foster (IL-14) voted to pass legislation to reauthorize SCHIP, the State Children's Health Insurance Program, providing health care coverage for 11 million children. The bill passed the House with a bipartisan vote of 289-139.
"Unfortunately, President Bush vetoed SCHIP legislation not once, but two times during the 110th Congress - irresponsible decisions that have prevented kids here in Illinois from getting the health coverage essential to their well-being," said Foster. "It is my sincere hope that the Senate can pass this legislation quickly, enabling the bill to be one of the first pieces of legislation signed into law by President-elect Obama."
H.R. 2, the State Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization, renews and improves SCHIP, reauthorizing it for four and a half years, through FY 2013. The bill provides health care coverage for 11 million children - preserving coverage for the 7 million children currently covered by SCHIP and extending coverage to 4 million uninsured children who are currently eligible for, but not enrolled in, SCHIP and Medicaid.
"Our kids shouldn't have to depend on Emergency Rooms to be their primary care providers - this practice is a drain on the American economy and the lack of preventative care is clearly harmful to the growth and development of our children," said Foster. "I strongly believe that every American deserves at least a basic level of health care, and I believe we've taken a tremendous step toward this goal by covering our kids first."
The bill is fully paid for with an increase in the tobacco tax and a provision regarding self-referral to physician-owned hospitals. The bill raises the tobacco tax by 61 cents a pack, an action that discourages children 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. The bill also closes a Medicare loophole that allows physicians to profit from referring their patients to hospitals in which they have an ownership interest.
Concluded Foster, "Today, Republicans and Democrats joined together to begin delivering on the promise of change. This is the first of what we hope will be many accomplishments to improve the lives of our families across the country and here in the 14th Congressional District."