Green Urges Senate to Provide Health Care to Uninsured Children
January 17, 2003
Washington, DC - Congressman Gene Green today sent a letter to Majority Leader Frist and Minority Leader Daschle, urging them to adopt a bipartisan amendment to extend the availability of several billion dollars in expiring federal funds for the State Childrens Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
The amendment, sponsored by Senators Rockefeller (D-WV), Chafee (R-RI) and Snowe (R-ME), would allow 50 percent of unspent funds to be retained by states that have not fully spent their fiscal year 2000 allocations. Texas is one of 24 states that had to return funds to the treasury last year. The remaining 50 percent of unspent funds from fiscal year 2000 would be redistributed to states that have exhausted their fiscal year 2000 allotments, with those funds remaining available through the end of fiscal year 2004.
These funds are from the early years of the SCHIP program and were unspent because it took many states several years to develop and implement their programs, said Green. If the money is not restored and current funding levels are kept in place, up to 900,000 children could lose their SCHIP coverage.
SCHIP funding was reduced by $1 billion last year and is slated to remain at that level through Fiscal Year 2004. States that had been able to draw on unspent funds in order to avert cutbacks will now have to start eliminating services.
If the Senate fails to adopt this amendment, Green is prepared to introduce the State Childrens Health Insurance Program Allotment Extension Availability Act of 2003 when Congress reconvenes on January 27, 2003. His bill would restore $1.2 billion in funds that states were forced to pay back to the U.S. Treasury at the end of Fiscal Year 2002 in October, including $285 million from the state of Texas.
The legislation currently has 20 bipartisan cosponsors, including Reps. Sylvestre Reyes, Rubn Hinojosa, Charles Gonzalez, Max Sandlin, Ralph Hall, Shelly Moore Capito, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Martin Frost, Sam Farr, Donna Christensen, Ciro Rodriguez, Peter Deutsch, Charles Stenholm, Nick Lampson, Dale Kildee, Steve LaTourrette, Joe Barton, Ron Paul, Jerry Kleczka, and Bernard Sanders.
Approximately 8.5 million American children--one in eight--are uninsured, including 1.3 million children in Texas. The SCHIP program currently serves 508,000 Texas children, with 90,000 children enrolled in Harris County. Returning funds to the states is essential if Texas is to continue serving this important population.
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January 17, 2003
The Honorable Bill Frist
Office of the Majority Leader
S-230 The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable Thomas A. Daschle
Office of the Minority Leader
S-221 The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Majority Leader Frist and Minority Leader Daschle:
I write today to urge you to adopt a proposed amendment by Senators Rockefeller, Chaffee and Snowe, which would restore funding to the states for the State Childrens Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
On October 1st of last year, states with unspent federal funding allocation were forced to return those amounts back to the U.S. Treasury. These funds are from the early years of the SCHIP program, and were unspent because it took many states several years to develop and implement their SCHIP programs.
Unfortunately, we are cutting these funds at a time when they will be needed most. Under the Balanced Budget Act, SCHIP funding was reduced by $1 billion, or 26 percent in FY 2002, and is slated to remain at this reduced level until FY 2004. States that had been able to draw on unspent funds in order to avert cutbacks will now have to start eliminating services. As a result of this problem, the Office of Management and Budget estimates that 900,000 children will lose their SCHIP coverage.
The Rockefeller/Chaffee/Snowe amendment is an essential first step in ensuring that there is sufficient federal funding of the SCHIP program to avert these cutbacks. I strongly urge you to adopt this bipartisan compromise and do everything you can to ensure that children can continue to be served by this vital program.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
Member of Congress