July 25, 2007
Take action on S-CHIP

Here's an important message from the CPPP:

Take Action: Texas' CHIP Funding in Jeopardy at the Federal Level

The 2007 Texas legislative session saw important health care victories for Texas children through the Children's Health Insurance Program. Now it's up to Washington to reauthorize enough money so that Texas children can receive the quality coverage they deserve.

This week will see a full Senate vote on SCHIP and important decisions about the House bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee. Ultimately, this legislation will fund Texas' CHIP program for the next 5 years.

More than any other state, Texas needs a strong CHIP reauthorization to allow our program, which has dropped by more than 200,000 children (over 40% of enrollment) to recover, and then to grow with the population. CHIP is effective and saves the state money, yet the President is threatening to veto the developing legislation, claiming that it would expand the program dramatically, reduce private coverage of low-income children, and pave the way for "government-run health care."

Here's what you can do to make sure all children get health insurance:

1. Contact your Senators and Congresspersons by calling 1-800-965-4298 or sending an e-mail. Find your legislator at http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/.

2. Send a letter to the editor of your local paper.

3. Tell your family, co-workers, and friends to do the same.

Here's what you should say:

1. Support full funding of SCHIP (pronounced ESS-CHIP), as promised in the budget. SCHIP must ensure that all eligible kids get the health care they deserve and don't fall through the cracks into the ranks of the uninsured.

2. EVERY child in America deserves health care!

3. Thank you for supporting full funding of SCHIP for America's kids.

For the real facts about SCHIP and more information, visit http://www.cppp.org/research.php?aid=694.

I usually don't bother with call-your-Senators action items like this, because with the Senators we have in this state, it's usually not worth the effort. This is one of those times where it might be, since as Martha's blog entry noted, S-CHIP has fairly broad bipartisan support. A veto-proof majority would be an awesome statement. And who knows, with an election coming up, even John Cornyn might be tempted to put doing the right thing ahead of cleaving to the President. If not, we can at least get him on the record. So give it a try and we'll see what happens.

Getting back to the veto threat, here's some more on that from State Rep. Garnet Coleman:

This past week I was honored to have been named one of Children at Risk's Legislators of the Year for work my office has done on the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Dr. Jeffrey Starke, chair of the board at Children at Risk and Chief of Pediatrics at Ben Taub Hospital, was kind enough to recognize me as "the father of CHIP in the state of Texas." It's because of the vigorous advocacy of groups like Children at Risk (whose website you can visit by clicking here) that we were able to partially restore CHIP in the legislature this past session. But we still have a long way to go to insuring every child in Texas, and right now the cause of children's health care faces a grave threat in Washington D.C.

That's because President Bush has threatened to veto a bipartisan reauthorization and expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program currently before Congress. Since 1997, SCHIP has provided health insurance for millions of children whose families make too much to qualify for Medicaid yet can't afford their own private coverage.

My office has spent the last few weeks sending letters to members of Congress about why it's so important they reauthorize and expand SCHIP. President Bush and members of Congress need to hear from you that any nation that places war over the health of our children has some seriously flawed priorities. Your telephone calls can make the difference in ensuring that millions of children have the health insurance they deserve.

  • Call President Bush today (White House Comments Line: 202-456-1111) and tell him to support children's health care and to sign an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

  • Find your member of Congress by clicking here, and tell him/her to vote for an expansion of the States Children's Health Insurance Program and to override any presidential veto.

The health of millions of children in this country depends on it.

Speaking of Children At Risk, here's their report (PDF) on what bills they tracked in the 80th Lege, and here's their report card (PDF) for the Houston-area delegation. Note that in addition to Rep. Coleman, Rick Noriega also got an A from them. Here's what they said about Rep. Noriega at their press conference (Word doc) announcing their report:

Rep. Rick Noriega has been a true champion for children during his eight years of service in the Texas State House of Representatives. His commitment to making children's issues a legislative priority during the 80th Session were exemplified by his authorship of key education reform legislation on which C@R worked with Rep. Noriega, infant care program for incarcerated mothers, and efforts to improve Houston's air quality. We are particularly pleased that Representative Noriega is able to give a strong voice to the importance of children's issues in the Appropriations Committee. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Rep. Noriega.

I'm kind of hoping he gets a promotion instead. I'm sure C@R will understand.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 25, 2007 to Budget ballyhoo