Today, the Senate joined the House in passing a bill to expand and strengthen the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, which provides health insurance to nearly 11 million of the nation’s poorest children, including 4.1 million children who would gain coverage. SCHIP offers health insurance to working families that make too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to be able to afford insurance. This new bill also allows states to drop the current five-year waiting period previously imposed upon eligible legal immigrants.
President George W. Bush vetoed virtually identical legislation for two years. Now under President Barack Obama, and with Republican votes in the House and Senate, SCHIP will be able to continue to help America’s children during these difficult economic times. The Senate bill is nearly identical to the House-passed bill and is expected to quickly make it through Congress and on to President Obama to be signed into law.
The swift passage of children’s health shows that comprehensive, bipartisan health reform is possible, despite the complexity of the problems. But we cannot stop here. We need comprehensive health reform now more than ever given our crumbling economy and a very broken health care system. Health care costs are crippling America’s businesses and America’s families. Affordable health care for everyone is key to the nation’s economic recovery.
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