Green Criticizes Bush Administration, Republican Congress for Allowing S-CHIP Funds to Expire
September 30, 2004
Washington, DC - Today, Congressman Gene Green (D-Houston) criticized the Bush Administration and the Republican majority in Congress for allowing funding for the State Childrens Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) to expire. At midnight September 30, approximately $1.1 billion in S-CHIP funding will be returned to the U.S. Treasury, instead of going to the states to provide health insurance for low-income children.
When the S-CHIP program was created in 1997, ten percent of all uninsured children in this country lived in our state of Texas, Rep. Gene Green said. While improvements have been made in our state since then, Texas continues to take one step forward and two steps back when it comes to providing our low-income children with health insurance. As a state, we need this S-CHIP funding and simply cant afford to have it sent back to the U.S. Treasury.
The law establishing the S-CHIP program gives states just three years to spend their annual allocations. At the end of those three years, any unspent funds are reallocated to states that previously spent all of their funds. States that were reallocated additional funds must spend the funding by the end of the next fiscal year, or the funds revert back to the U.S. Treasury.
Traditionally, the Administration and Congress has provided states with an extension so that they may find the necessary state matching funds for the program and continue to utilize federal S-CHIP dollars. However, the Administration and Congress did not act by the last day of fiscal year, September 30.
Time and again, the President has pledged to provide $1 billion to enroll children in S-CHIP programs. But it doesnt help low-income children to enroll them in a program he wont fund, Rep. Green said. The President had the power to specifically request an extension of S-CHIP funding but failed to do so in his budget. The unfortunate result is that $65.4 million in S-CHIP funding will be taken away from our state, which could have used that funding to provide more than 44,000 low-income Texas children with health insurance.
A senior member of the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Green has co-sponsored bi-partisan legislation that would enable states to retain the $1.1 billion in S-CHIP funding for use through 2007, the effect of which would provide 750,000 uninsured American children with health coverage for the next year.