We're going to keep saying it: Children must come out of federal health care reform better off, not worse.
Now we're happy to report some progress in the Senate. Yestereday the Senate Finance Committee approved an amendment from Senator Jay Rockefeller that preserves the Children's Health Insurance Program, a highly successful federal-state partnership that is a cornerstone of our Apple Health for Kids program here in Washington.
Of course, the amendment didn't include everything advocates for children were hoping for, but there's a lot to be happy about.
The good bits:
- Retains the Children's Health Insurance Program through 2019, although the program would need to be reapproved when the current law expires in 2013.
- Keeps low-income kids out of the insurance exchange and gets rid of the "CHIP wrap" included in the Baucus bill. The Baucus bill called for putting children in families who earn more than 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level into an exchange with their parents, but there was no requirement that plans in the exchange include all of screens and care recommended by pediatricians. Instead, states would have had to come up with a separate insurance program to round out what kids would get in the exchange--a potentially confusing process for families.
- Prohibits states from cutting the kids health coverage programs they already have. The maintenance of effort provision would make sure states don't cut their coverage programs, ensuring that families in Washington would continue to get the comprehensive, affordable coverage they rely on from Apple Health for Kids.
As usual, our colleagues at the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University have more details and a great analysis of this and other child-friendly ammendments on their Say Ahhhh! blog.