New SCHIP Rules Limit Coverage (Rep. Steve Cohen)

The new rules imposed by the Administration on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) are a serious hindrance to the health and well being of all families across the United States.  SCHIP was created to provide health insurance for all low-income children.   By imposing strict rules and eligibility guidelines, five million children across the country may be at risk due to lack of coverage.

Earlier this month, Congress passed the CHAMP Act, which took a major step forward in ensuring that America’s children receive health care by reauthorizing and improving SCHIP.  By imposing strict rules, the President is attempting to undermine this legislation and block health insurance from millions of American children.

The Administration’s new rules state that children have to be uninsured for a full year before having access to government subsidized coverage. Most states require much shorter waiting periods than one year, including Tennessee which has no waiting period whatsoever.  A year is a very long time and thousands of children could become sick during the interim period without coverage.

In addition, the new rules imposed by the Administration attempt to prevent children whose household income is 250% above the national poverty level from enrolling in the program.  Because Congress recently voted to expand SCHIP eligibility to include children above the poverty level, this new rule may prevent millions of children from being covered.

The Administration is attempting to limit, rather than expand, coverage for America’s low-income children.  I believe we should be working to help those most vulnerable in society and not pass measures which would take away health insurance coverage from millions of American children.  I will continue to do my part in Congress to safeguard our children’s health and pass legislation that will expand and improve programs like SCHIP.