Washington, D.C., Aug. 1, 2007 – The American Public Health Association (APHA) applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for voting today to protect children’s health by improving and extending the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The House-approved legislation provides an additional $50 billion to cover as many as 11 million children eligible for coverage under the SCHIP and Medicaid programs, funded largely through an increase in the tobacco tax.
“We thank members of the House for recognizing the importance of protecting and improving the health of our children,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of APHA. “SCHIP has proven successful in providing access to quality, affordable health care to kids who wouldn’t otherwise have it. They deserve a healthy start in life, and SCHIP provides it!”
The approved measure would improve access to dental care and mental health services for eligible children, and give states new ways to help get children enrolled and keep them enrolled as long as they are eligible. The bill would also give states the option to extend coverage to legal immigrant children and pregnant women who are now unfairly prohibited from participating.
In addition, by coupling the program with an important funding mechanism, a tobacco tax, the House has attacked two important reasons that our kids are unhealthy: access to health care and inappropriate access to tobacco. “This is a win-win of the highest order,” said Benjamin.
APHA also strongly supported components of the bill that would improve coverage for U.S. seniors covered under the Medicare program. By providing increased and timelier access to critical preventive health benefits, the legislation would reduce the overall costs of health care and move the country toward a prevention-focused system.
“These changes strengthen the safety net for our children and champions the health of Americans of all ages,” said Benjamin. “We urge the Senate to follow the lead of the House and reauthorize the SCHIP program.”
Learn more about APHA’s recommendations for improving the SCHIP program.