“SCHIP has been proven by experience and by passage of time to be a work that has given enormous benefits to the whole country,” said Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. “It’s one of the best ideas to ever come out of the Congress.”
Chairman Dingell joined Sen. Daschle and John Podesta at the Center for American Progress yesterday for an event marking the ten year anniversary of the highly successful State Children’s Health Insurance Program. This program, along with Medicaid, is credited with reducing the rate of low-income, uninsured children by one third between 1997 and 2005. Yesterday’s discussion focused on the program’s achievements, how to make SCHIP stronger in the future, and what can be done to solve our health care crisis.
Looking forward to reauthorization, it’s clear that Congress will have to deal with issues in SCHIP that have resurfaced over the last ten years, such as state budget shortfalls. “We have to keep programs like SCHIP alive and well,” said John Podesta, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress. “SCHIP has proven to be a success in all areas.”
Although SCHIP has certainly been successful, Podesta also stressed that there is work yet to be done. There are still nine million children left outside the system without health insurance, six million of whom qualify for Medicaid or SCHIP. The number of uninsured children is likely to increase unless SCHIP is reauthorized with increased federal investment.
Chairman Dingell emphasized this point. “It’s something that is good for the economy,” Dingell explained. “Our budget situation is a difficult one, but there is a broad agreement in the Congress that something must be done.”
“The nation is going to find that it costs $3.50 a day, that is less than a frappucino at Starbucks, to provide every child with health insurance,” said Chairman Dingell. “The national consensus is that we need to do something like this.”
“We know we have a lot of work to do as we celebrate this 10 year anniversary,” Sen. Tom Daschle, Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Center for American Progress, agreed. “As we look to the future, healthcare is an issue that will grow more important not only to policy makers, but to every single American.”
“The solution to the whole problem is universal healthcare,” Chairman Dingell said. “It’s not just a humanitarian concern…We can save real money by doing away with lots of useless expenditures that would be better spent on people in the healthcare system.”
The participants agreed that SCHIP needs to be reauthorized and strengthened in order to protect our nation’s low-income children. But they also agreed that the larger question is when and how will all Americans have affordable health care.
“This is a real disgrace that we don’t provide for those that have the least and give them the healthcare that they so desperately need,” Chairman Dingell said. “Healthcare should be a right and not a privilege.”
For more information about the event, see: