CHN: Critical Children’s Health Bill Enacted into Law
“I refuse to accept that millions of our kids fail to reach their full potential because we fail to meet their basic needs. In a decent society, there are certain obligations that are not subject to tradeoffs or negotiation – health care for our children is one of those obligations.” – Remarks by President Obama at the signing ceremony of CHIPRA.
A significant victory in children’s health was won on February 4, 2009 when President Obama signed into law The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA). The new law (Public Law No. 111-3) extends the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) for a period of four and a half years (April 1, 2009 to September 30, 2013) and is expected to cover over 4 million otherwise uninsured children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private insurance. SCHIP was originally set for reauthorization in 2007, but President Bush vetoed it twice.
In addition to extending coverage to millions of uninsured children, CHIPRA is designed to improve the quality of care and benefits children receive. It provides states new outreach and enrollment tools, and extends eligibility to key populations including pregnant women and lawfully residing immigrant children and expectant mothers. The new law is not perfect. It does eliminate adult coverage and extends citizenship documentation requirements to SCHIP. However, both health advocates and the President see CHIPRA as only a first step to reforming and improving our broken health care system. “The way I see it, providing coverage to 11 million children through CHIP is a down payment on my commitment to cover every single American. And it is just one component of a much broader effort to finally bring our health care system into the twenty-first century,” stated President Obama at the CHIPRA signing ceremony.
On February 4 the President also issued a Presidential Memorandum to the Secretary of Health and Human Services annulling the August 17, 2007 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services directive that sharply limited states flexibility to set the income eligibility level for their SCHIP program.
For a brief overview of CHIPRA see Families USA’s Summary of Final CHIP Reauthorization Bill at http://www.familiesusa.org/assets/pdfs/chipra-3-senate-2-02-09.pdf.
For a detailed summary of the new law, including a listing of implementation dates for key provisions, see the Center for Children and Families’ The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009: Overview and Summary at http://ccf.georgetown.edu/index/cms-filesystem-action?file=ccf%20publications/federal%20schip%20policy/ccf%20chip%20summary%202-13.pdf.