House Passes Children's Health Insurance Bill
Children's Health Insurance Bill
The House on Wednesday voted 225-204 to approve a bill (HR 3162) that would reauthorize and expand SCHIP and also make revisions to Medicare, the New York Times reports (Pear, New York Times, 8/2). The bill also would extend a federal abstinence education program for two years and fund it at $50 million annually, CQ Today reports.
Underthe bill, states would have the option to accept funds forabstinence-only sex education programs or for programs that promoteabstinence and also teach "those who are currently sexually active orat risk of sexual activity about additional methods to preventunintended pregnancy or reduce health risks." The bill also wouldrequire all programs that receive funding to provide medically accurateinformation and demonstrate effectiveness in reducing rates ofpregnancy and sexually transmitted infections such as HIV.
According to CQ Today,Democratic leaders might have "found a way to take a politicallycontentious issue off the table" by expanding the abstinence program,which many moderates support. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who supportsthe abstinence education program, said, "I'm comfortable with [thebill] as long as states have the option." He added, "A lot of us hadconcerns about it. We'd like to see it continue." However, Rep. LeeTerry (R-Nev.) said, "I'm not comfortable with [the change] because thedollars for abstinence [education] are rare." He added, "To be able totake the rare abstinence dollar and convert it into sex ed isinappropriate" (Allen, CQ Today, 8/1).
Other Provisions, Outlook
The bill also would allow states to provide family planning services without receiving federal approval, the New Orleans Times-Picayunereports. The measure also would provide partial funding to states toprovide health insurance to cover low-income pregnant women anddocumented immigrant children up to age 24 (Walsh, New Orleans Times-Picayune,8/2). Five Republicans and 220 Democrats voted to approve the bill,while 194 Republicans and 10 Democrats voted against it. According tothe Times, President Bush has threatened to veto the House bill, as well as a "more modest bipartisan measure" on SCHIP that the Senate is expected to pass this week (New York Times, 8/2).
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