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SCHIP Legislation, President's Veto Affect Hispanic Children

Armen Hareyan's picture

State Children's Health Insurance Program

A political analyst and advocates for Hispanics recently weighed in onthe SCHIP legislation vetoed by President Bush on Wednesday that wouldhave reauthorized and expanded the program, Cox/Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports (Moscoso, Cox/ Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 10/4). SCHIP provides health coverage to about six million children currently.

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Thelegislation would have brought total SCHIP enrollment to 10 millionchildren by providing an additional $35 billion in funding over thenext five years. The additional funding would have been paid for by a61-cent-per-pack increase in the tobacco tax. The program expired onSunday (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 10/3).

Ofchildren who would have been newly eligible for SCHIP under the bill,at least one-third likely would have been Hispanic, Edwin Park, asenior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities,said. About 40% of Hispanic children already receive health coveragethrough SCHIP or Medicaid, though many eligible Hispanic children arenot enrolled, according to Park. He added, "Every day, there's going tobe more uninsured kids in this country, and because Latino children inparticular are much more likely to be uninsured, they will bedisproportionately affected."

The National Alliance forHispanic Health had praised the legislation, saying it would haveinsured more than one million Hispanic children, Cox/Star-Telegram reports.

However,other advocates contend that the veto would not have that great of aneffect on Hispanic children because lawmakers included a provision thatwould have banned documented immigrant children who have been in theU.S. for less than five years from participating in the program. "Whilethis bill would have extended coverage to Latino children, Congresscannot say with conviction that they removed all the barriers forLatino children, as they chose to leave a significant part of thepopulation behind," Jennifer Ngandu, a senior health policy analyst atthe National Council of La Raza, said (Cox/Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 10/4).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser WeeklyHealth Disparities Report,search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.