Examining Debate Over SCHIP Bill

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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Politico on Tuesday examined the debate over SCHIP renewal and expansion legislation that also would lift eligibility restrictions for documented immigrants. The House is expected to vote on the legislation Wednesday. According to the Politico, the House vote "could set the tone for future debates" on immigrant issues (O'Connor, Politico, 1/13).

The bill would expand SCHIP to cover four million additional children. It also would repeal a rule barring documented immigrants from receiving federal health benefits during their first five years in the U.S. The rule originally was written into a 1996 law overhauling the nation's welfare programs and Medicaid and was expanded to include SCHIP when the program was created in 1997 (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 1/13). A similar Senate bill would not lift the waiting period.

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Jennifer Ngandu -- spokesperson for the National Council of La Raza, which has lobbied for a repeal of the five-year waiting period for SCHIP -- said, "We really believe that this is the first opportunity for the president-elect and the Congress to demonstrate their commitment to the Latino community."

According to Politico, "many GOP lawmakers still view the proposed repeal as a 'wink-wink, nod-nod' for immigrants in the country illegally to receive federally funded health coverage through state-run Medicaid programs." Other Republicans argue that the budget shortfalls mean that many states cannot afford to expand their Medicaid or SCHIP programs, and the federal government would have to increase its contributions for the expansions to happen, Politico reports. According to Politico, Republican opposition is not expected to prevent the legislation from "easily passing."

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) said, "It's not just about Hispanic families; it's an issue of providing some sense of health care security for all families" (Politico, 1/13).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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