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Senate Passes Children’s Health Insurance Bill!

January 30, 2009

By a vote of 66-32, the Senate yesterday passed legislation reauthorizing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).  The bill (HR 2) is similar to legislation that passed the House on January 14, by a vote of 289-139.  SCHIP reauthorization bills were vetoed by former President Bush in 2007 and 2008.  The bill now goes back to the House for one last vote before being sent to the White House, where President Obama is expected to sign it into law soon.

Details on the Senate SCHIP Legislation

The Senate-passed version of HR 2:

  • 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 CHIP 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.   

Click here for additional information on the new SCHIP reauthorization bill.