The bill was immediately sent to President Obama, who signed the legislation into law late Wednesday afternoon. The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) Reauthorization Act becomes the second bill that President Obama has signed into law since he took office.
“We have a duty as a nation to protect those who cannot protect themselves. This SCHIP legislation does just that by providing health care to millions of children whose families otherwise would not be able to afford private insurance,” Hinojosa said. “It is simply unacceptable that America continues to be the world’s only developed nation that does not provide health care coverage to all children.”
The SCHIP legislation preserves the coverage for all 7.1 million children currently covered by SCHIP, including preserving the coverage of 710,690 children in Texas. It also extends coverage to 4.1 million uninsured children who are currently eligible for, but not enrolled in, SCHIP and Medicaid, including 490,000 children in Texas. The state of Texas is home to more uninsured children than anywhere in the nation.
“Our region desperately needs this bill, which would provide a measurable difference in the health of our families and economy,” Hinojosa said. “Covering more eligible children is not only the right thing to do – it makes good economic sense. It is the most cost-effective way to cover our kids so that fewer taxpayer dollars go toward emergency room treatments — by far the most expensive way to care for a child’s health.”
Hinojosa also praised a key provision in the bill that would give states the option of covering legal immigrant children and pregnant women who have been in United States less than five years under SCHIP and Medicaid.
“The current five-year wait period can mean the difference between preventing or treating health conditions that can affect a child’s prospects for a healthy and productive life. Similarly, a pregnant woman cannot wait five years for pre-natal care that will help her have a healthy baby,” Hinojosa said. “It makes sense to cover these women and children without delay in order to prevent critical health problems from going unchecked.”