Saturday, 15 June 2024

House passes new version of children

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, the House of Representatives again passed a bipartisan bill to provide health coverage to more than 10 million children.

HR 3963, the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007 (SCHIP) was introduced Oct. 24 following President Bush's veto earlier this month of a previous version of the bill, HR 976.

Last week Congress failed to override the president's veto.

The new bill passed in the House in a Thursday evening vote.

Congressman Mike Thompson, who has been a strong supporter of the SCHIP legislation, issued a statement Thursday afternoon in which he said the new bill strengthens language that the president claimed to be problematic in the previous version.


“The president alleged that the first bill covered illegal immigrants, which couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Thompson (D-St. Helena), who voted in favor of the bill. “However, the new bill clearly spells out the process by which states must verify citizenship before enrolling new beneficiaries, ensuring that the SCHIP program only serves U.S. citizens.”

President Bush also had opposed the previous version of the bill because he said it added as much as $50 million in additional spending and that it would cover children living in households with incomes as high as $83,000.

In response to the latter concern, Thompson said the new bill specifically prohibits the administration from issuing waivers that allow children in families with income over 300 percent of the poverty level to enroll in SCHIP.

The bill still continues coverage for the 6.6 million children currently enrolled in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), including more than 1,600 children in Lake County, according to Thompson's office. It also extends coverage to 4 million uninsured children who qualify for the program, but aren’t currently enrolled.

“We’ll do whatever it takes to get these 10 million kids covered,” said Thompson.

Thompson maintained that this version and its predecessor were both “born out of bipartisan compromise,” adding, “today’s bill is a further gesture that we are committed to working across the aisle to create strong, effective policy.”

“There is simply no room for playing politics when it comes to the health of our kids,” Thompson said. “This bill passed with an overwhelming bipartisan vote and is supported by 43 governors and the vast majority of Americans. We cannot and will not give up on the health and the future of our children.”

However, the bill is far from being out of the woods.

Republicans decried the vote's timing, with President Bush and some top Republican lawmakers coming to California to assess the wildfire damage.

Thirteen Southern California Republicans sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi asking for the vote to be rescheduled until after they could return from offering assistance to their constituents.

Congressman Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), the House Republican Whip, issued a statement Thursday criticizing Pelosi's decision not to reschedule the vote while the Southern California House members were away.

That move, Blount said, disenfranchised “a large segment of the most populous state in the union” and throws the vote's integrity into doubt.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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