The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) was created to provide health insurance coverage to children who might otherwise not have access to coverage. The program was created in 1997, and provides federal funds to states, with the states creating and administering individualized programs.
SCHIP was created by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, and enacted Title XXI of the Social Security Act. The program initially allocated roughly $20 billion over five years to help states insure more children, and SCHIP plans have been approved in all 50 states. The program allows each state to provide health insurance to children under the age of 19 who are not already insured, and each state sets its own guidelines. The program primarily benefits children whose families earn too much to be covered by Medicaid, but too little to afford health insurance. Roughly 6 million children fall into this category and receive coverage.
From the Chicago Tribune:
WASHINGTON – On a 265-159 vote, a broad House majority gave final approval Tuesday night to a $35 billion expansion of the popular children’s health insurance program, with members from both parties brushing aside a stern veto threat from President Bush.
The compromise package would expand the $5 billion-a-year children’s health insurance program by an average of $7 billion a year over the next five years, for total funding of $60 billion over the period. That would be enough to boost the program’s enrollment to 10 million, up from the 6.6 million, and dramatically reduce the ranks of America’s 9 million uninsured children, supporters said.
The compromise worked out between the House and Senate has gained support from the health insurance industry, the AARP, the American Medical Association, governors from both parties and numerous children’s health advocates.
But Bush and GOP leaders said the measure would push children already covered by private health insurance into publicly financed health care, while creating an “entitlement” whose costs would ultimately outstrip the money raised by the bill’s 61-cent increase in the federal tobacco tax.
Alexandria, Va.: Did any House Republicans facing tough races next year vote against the SCHIP bill yesterday?
Jonathan Weisman: An excellent question. I noticed that Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-N.J.) voted against it before he noticed all his colleagues voting for it. He then switched his vote. Jim Saxton, another Jersey Republican under Democratic attack, did vote against the bill, as did Thelma Drake of Virginia. But 45 Republicans voting for it is a real sign of how tough an issue this is.
Chicago: I just saw that SCHIP passed the house with 8 Dems voting against it. Can you identify the eight Democrats who voted no?
Jonathan Weisman: Sure, Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Betty Castor of Fla., Bobby Etheridge of NC, Baron Hill of Indiana, Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, Jim Marshall of Georgia, Mike McIntyre of NC., and Gene Taylor of Miss. Boren, Hill, Taylor and Marshall are conservatives who probably didn’t like the tobacco tax. The North Carolinians were obviously voting with their tobacco farmers. Castor and Kucinich felt the bill didn’t go far enough, especially a provision insisted on by Senate Republicans that blocks access to S-CHIP for legal immigrants.