The House of Representatives is about to pass a long-awaited and badly needed reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program with broad bipartisan support. This proposal would guarantee continued coverage for 6.7 million children, and add protection for 3.9 million more.
SCHIP has been on life support since the fall of 2007, during the nation’s worst economic slump since the Great Depression when families needed it most. Congress’ inability to move forward on this issue has not been because it doesn’t know how to protect children; it does. Rather, the failure has been political. The House and Senate passed a similar bill in September 2007 and again in November 2007 only to have them vetoed by President George W. Bush. If the Senate moves to reauthorize SCHIP as quickly as the House expects to move—and it should—American families will finally see the help they have been waiting for.
Millions of uninsured children have been waiting for health insurance since 2007 and the economic crisis brings many more to their ranks every day. Now is the time for the nation to move beyond politics and provide them the health insurance protection they so sorely need. The only political sticking point on the horizon seems to be whether to cover children who are legal immigrants. Only politics would make these children wait five years for health insurance. The Senate should move quickly to reauthorize SCHIP, coming to agreement with the House, and sending a bill to a president who is ready to sign it. Democratic and Republican senators can put children above ideology and deliver what they know is best for America’s families.
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