– U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, D-MD, today said the
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) reauthorization bill “will do more to improve the health of American children than almost anything else we can do.” The House passed the bill on Tuesday by a vote of 265 to 159, and the Senate is scheduled to vote on the measure on Thursday.
“The United States is the richest nation in the world and we have the resources to ensure that all our children have access to quality health care,” said Senator Cardin. “This measure is exactly what is needed: it is effective and does not create any large bureaucracy. It gives states the resources and flexibility to do what is best for their youngest citizens. Failure to provide our children with this benefit would be a travesty.”
The measure is expected to pass in the Senate on Thursday. Senator Cardin strongly urged the President to sign the bill once it passes both chambers. President Bush has said that he will veto the measure, despite overwhelming bipartisan support for it.
In Maryland, this bill would fully fund the 101,000 children currently enrolled in MCHP. It also would provide funding to expand health coverage to approximately 42,000 Maryland children who are currently uninsured. Forty-three of the nation’s governors have urged President Bush to sign the bill.
“This expansion of the CHIP program will have an enormously beneficial affect on Maryland families and help ensure that Maryland children get the health care they need,” said Senator Cardin.
Late last week, a bipartisan group of Senate and House conferees reached an agreement on the bill. The conference report will:
Provide an additional $35 billion over five years in new funding for the CHIP program;
Provide health care to an additional 3.8. million low-income children;
Provide a guaranteed dental benefit to children enrolled in CHIP;
Provide for mental health services; and,
Provide a funding source by increasing the federal excise tax to 61-cents on a pack of cigarettes.