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Child Development SCHIP Bill Passes House: First Step in Expanding Health Insurance for Kids

Posted Jan 22 2009 3:59pm
By Colleen Hurley, RD, Certified Kids Nutrition Specialist New US president Barack Obama was inaugurated today; and even prior to stepping into the White House began making strides on his campaign agenda. U.S. News and World Report reveals the House of Representatives passed a bill reauthorizing the State Childrens Health Insurance plan (SCHIP). The bill will expand health insurance coverage to an additional 4 million lower-income children over the next 4.5 years with total reaching 11 million dollars. Obama made strong campaign pledges regarding improved health insurance coverage for all Americans and this bill provides the first step in his making good on his promises. Preventing half a million children from getting coverage, there is currently a five year waiting period for health insurance for the kids of legal immigrants. The bill not only would allow states to waive this waiting period, but also provides $100 million in grants for outreach and simplifying enrollment. Extensive documentation requirements and long waiting periods have hindered eligible children from obtaining coverage in some US states. General Counsel for the Childrens Defense Fund Susan Gates explains, we need to get rid of barriers to getting enrolled and staying enrolled. Unfortunately, not every child will be helped by the bill as it is estimated that 5 million kids will remain without health insurance even once the bill is passed. Those out of coverage eligibility will be families that make 'too much money' for subsidized health care or families making over 200% the national poverty level which is roughly $40,000 per year for a family of four. More work is needed to address this issue and universal health care coverage for all children remains a hope for the future. The Senate is slotted to take up a similar bill this week allowing Obama to sign off on the legislation soon after officially taking office.
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