National Alliance on Mental Illness
page printed from
(800) 950-NAMI;

President Obama Signs Children’s Health Insurance Bill!

February 4, 2009

President Obama this afternoon signed in to law legislation reauthorizing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).  The bill (HR 2) cleared a final hurdle today when it passed the House by a vote of 290-135, after passing the Senate 66-32 on January 30. 

The new law:

  • Will cover approximately 4 million additional uninsured children,
  • Ensures that all private sector SCHIP plans comply with the Paul Wellstone & Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 – the new federal parity law.
  • Is fully paid for, primarily with a 61-cent increase in the federal tobacco tax
  • Extends federal support for SCHIP through 2013,
  • Encourages states to enroll children who are already eligible but not yet covered, and gives states new tools to reach uninsured children,
  • Makes sure that federal funding goes to states that are using the money (to ensure that the greatest number of children get coverage),
  • Makes it easier for people who are U.S. citizens to document their citizenship status by allowing access to government databases (but extends the requirement to document citizenship to CHIP, whereas before it had applied only to Medicaid),
  • Allows states to cover children in families with incomes up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level with full federal CHIP funding but does not establish a "cap" on eligibility level,
  • Requires states to change the way they fund coverage for the parents of kids in SCHIP after 2010.