Obama poised to give insurance to illegals
President-elect calls SCHIP expansion '1 of first measures I sign into law'
By Chelsea Schilling
The World Net Daily News, January 19, 2009
Shortly after taking office, President Obama is expected to sign a bill that could give health insurance to illegal aliens and children from middle-class families that make more than $61,000 per year.
Last week, the House voted 289-139 to expand HR 3963, the State Childrens Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, a federal program providing coverage to children whose families have higher incomes than those who qualify for Medicaid. The bill, sponsored by Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., renews the program for five years, increases funding from the current $35 billion to $60 billion and expands coverage from million to 11 million uninsured children.
The Senate Finance Committee began reviewing the bill Thursday. If passed by the Senate, the legislation will be ready for Obama to sign after he takes office. Similar legislation sponsored by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., passed the Senate 12-7 Thursday. Baucus' bill would increase SCHIP funding by $31.5 billion.
HR 3963 is expected to receive quick approval from the new president.
Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, told the Associated Press Democrats are seeking to give Obama an early victory on healthcare.
President Bush vetoed two different versions of SCHIP extension legislation during his presidency, claiming the bills were a step toward socialized medicine.
Critics claim SCHIP expansion could damage the private insurance market by discouraging employers from covering their workers' children on private plans, CNS News reports. Some say the program could also keep middle-class parents from buying insurance for their children because the legislation calls for an income cap of 300 percent above federal poverty levels approximately $63,600 for a family of four in some states.
More than 2 million children who currently have private insurance could be covered under the expansion, causing a shift that could pose a burden to taxpayers. The bill increases the federal excise tax on cigarettes by 61 cents to $1 a pack to pay for the added costs.
On Wednesday, Obama encouraged the Senate to greet the legislation with the 'same sense of urgency so that it can be one of the first measures I sign into law when I am president.'
According to AP reports, Obama said, 'In this moment of crisis, ensuring that every child in America has access to affordable health care is not just good economic policy, but a moral obligation we hold as parents and citizens.'
The House bill also allows illegal aliens access to SCHIP because it no longer requires identification such as green cards or passports for enrollment. Illegals would be allowed to receive coverage for up to 90 days while states attempt to verify Social Security numbers. If they do not provide valid numbers, they will be dropped from enrollment after three months.
Illegals who have stolen Social Security numbers could continue to receive SCHIP benefits unless the Social Security Administration tracks the thefts.
After the House passed its version on Wednesday, Obama called Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to congratulate her.
'This is only the beginning of the change we will achieve with our new president,' Pelosi said.
NCLR Urges Senate To Include Legal Immigrant Children In Health Bill
The Spanish Journal, January 21, 2009
Washington, DC — Calling it 'an investment in a stronger and more secure future for all Americans,' Janet Murgua, President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, today at a press conference on Capitol Hill called for the U.S. Senate to include legal immigrant children and pregnant women in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) bill. Along with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), NCLR praised the House of Representatives for including this vulnerable segment of the Latino community in its SCHIP reauthorization bill, and it urged the Senate to make the same commitment to promoting a healthier America by passing the legislation.
'It is inexcusable that Latino children, who make up a significant portion our nation's population, continue to be the most uninsured ethnic group in the country,' said Murgua. 'Excluding legal immigrant children from this bill would result in an irresponsible and dangerous health care policy.'
Under the 1996 welfare reform, immigrant children and pregnant women are subject to a five-year bar before they may qualify for coverage through Medicaid or SCHIP. 'I haven't met anyone who isn't outraged when they hear what the current five-year bar on legal immigrant children means: that a girl with asthma has to go through five years of attacks before she can get an inhaler, and a boy with cancer has to wait five years for chemotherapy,' said Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). 'Five years truly is a lifetime for a child. It's time to remove this bar and include coverage for legal immigrant children and pregnant women in the bill to reauthorize SCHIP, so we can take a major step toward making sure no child goes to bed at night without health care in the greatest nation on earth.'
Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), who introduced the measure under the 'Legal Immigrant Children's Health Improvement Act' (ICHIA), stated, 'I have worked hard for a decade on this legislation, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to follow the lead of the House and include ICHIA in SCHIP. The need for child health insurance coverage in states with large immigrant populations is reaching crisis proportions. The law should not discriminate against legal immigrants; health care is too important an issue.'
'The five-year waiting period can mean the difference between preventing or treating health conditions that can affect a child's prospects for a healthy and productive life-or leaving those conditions undetected and not treated, costing taxpayers much more in the long run. This is not only a matter of common sense, but also an opportunity to show the values that define us as a country,' said Representative Xavier Becerra (D-CA).