Crowley, Maloney Applaud Passage Of Expanded Child Health Bill
Congressmember Joseph Crowley cheered and colleague Carolyn Maloney quipped, "The third time will be the charm" as the House for the third time passed a bill that will improve healthcare coverage for 651,853 children in New York state and extend affordable health care to tens of thousands more uninsured children.
The approved legislation, called the Children's Health Insurance Program, (SCHIP), was twice vetoed by President George W. Bush. Now, Maloney said, it appears to be among the first bills that will be signed by President Barack Obama, who was sworn in as the nation's 44th president yesterday.
Applauding the bill's passage last Wednesday by a 289-139 vote, Maloney (Queens/Manhattan) declared: "No child in America should have to go without proper health care. I'm proud that a bipartisan majority in this Congress stood up to right one of the enduring wrongs of the current administration, and that we will soon have as president a true champion of American children, Barack Obama."
Crowley stated, "With every passing day in these harsh economic times, more and more children lose health coverage, making the program increasingly critical. This bill will modernize the program for existing participants, provide coverage to legal immigrants and extend benefits to millions of uninsured children and all pregnant women."
"As the father of three young children, I am proud to have championed this as the first major healthcare initiative of the 111th Congress."
Maloney noted that the new bill is fully paid for by raising the federal tobacco tax by 61 cents per pack of cigarettes.
Raising that tax, Maloney added, also promotes children's health by discouraging children from smoking. According to the Campaign for Tobacco- Free Kids, a 61-cent increase in the tobacco tax means that 1,873,000 fewer children will take up smoking, Maloney said.
Crowley said that the new legislation will add 4 million more children to the 7 million presently covered. The Elmhurst lawmaker, the Chief Deputy Whip of the Democratic majority and a member of the powerful Committee on Ways and Means, said the bill provides resources for states to reach uninsured children who today are eligible for SCHIP and Medicaid, but not yet enrolled in the program. The better outreach will allow states to enroll the one-third of children not covered.
The bill also improves coverage, adding dental coverage for all children and mental health parity, Crowley said. It also gives states the option of covering legal immigrant children who have been here less than five years under SCHIP and Medicaid.