Obama Signs Baucus’ Children’s Health Insurance Bill

By Beacon Staff

President Barack Obama signed into law Wednesday U.S. Sen Max Baucus’, D-Mont., bill to improve and renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program. From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has signed a bill extending health coverage to 4 million uninsured children.

The East Room signing ceremony on Wednesday represented a much-needed win for Obama on health care a day after his administration suffered a major setback with the loss of his nominee to lead his drive for sweeping reform, Tom Daschle.

The bill went to the White House fresh from passage in the Democratic-controlled House, on a vote of 290-135.

The bill calls for spending an additional $32.8 billion on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Lawmakers generated that revenue by raising the federal tobacco tax. Obama said it is a key step toward his promise of universal health care coverage for all.

In an e-mail, Baucus said, “It took a lot of hard work but we got it done. We’ve done right by kids in Montana and across the country.”

Montana’s lone U.S. Congressman Denny Rehberg, a Republican, was also invited to the signing ceremony. “Washington spends a lot of money on stupid things, but providing health insurance for kids isn’t one of them,” he said in a prepared statement.

Both lawmakers’ full statements are below.

From Baucus:

(Washington, D.C.) – President Barack Obama today signed into law Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus’ bill to improve and renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Baucus’ bill will provide health insurance for 30,000 Montana children that currently don’t have health insurance.

Baucus is chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over CHIP, Medicare, and Medicaid. The Children’s Health Insurance Program provides health insurance to low-income kids whose families don’t qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford health insurance on their own. CHIP was set to expire at the end of March if Congressional action had not been taken.

“This shows what working together can accomplish,” Baucus said. “It took a lot of hard work but we got it done. We’ve done right by kids in Montana and across the country. Parents now won’t have to choose between putting food on the table and making sure their children can get the health care they need. I’m proud of what we accomplished – it’s a good day.”

Baucus’ legislation renews the Children’s Health Insurance Program for four and a half years – through September 2013.

As of January 2009, the Children’s Health Insurance Program is providing insurance for 17,308 Montana children.

In 2007, Baucus wrote and twice led the passage of legislation to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program. However, President George W. Bush twice refused to sign the Children’s Health Insurance Program bills.

Baucus’ Children’s Health Insurance Program legislation will:
· Preserve health coverage for 6.7 million children and provide new coverage for 3.9 million more children
· Improve the state allotment formula to reflect actual projected spending in CHIP
· Provide funding for outreach and enrollment efforts
· Provide bonus payments to states for enrolling lowest-income children for health coverage
· Establish a contingency fund to protect states from shortfalls in unforeseen emergencies, and to provide bonus funding for enrollment of lowest-income children for health coverage
· Allow states to use information from food stamp programs and other initiatives for low-income families to find and enroll eligible children
· Improve premium assistance policies
· Provide options to cover pregnant women for the prenatal care vital to healthy newborn children
· Provide funds for existing coverage of low-income parents, who will transition to a lower Federal matching rate
· Move childless adults out of CHIP
· Prohibit new waivers for additional adult coverage in CHIP
· Improve pediatric quality measures for CHIP and Medicaid

From Rehberg:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Montana’s Congressman, Denny Rehberg, today attended the Signing Ceremony for the State Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Bill at the White House. He was invited to attend by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in recognition of his strong support for the program and his dedication to bipartisanship.

“Washington spends a lot of money on stupid things, but providing health insurance for kids isn’t one of them,” said Rehberg, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “I congratulate president Obama on this legislation and look forward to working with him in the future. When we work together, we can help working families and children in Montana and across America.”

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