CHIP: Bipartisan Group to Try Again at Program Expansion
House and Senate Democrats, with some Republican supporters, today are expected to formally introduce a bill to expand the Children's Health Insurance Program, Congress Daily reports. The FamilyCare Act of 2000 would cover legal immigrant children, parents and pregnant women in households that cannot afford employer-sponsored private health insurance. The bill would make $50 billion in federal assistance available to states to cover more program participants; streamline the CHIP and Medicaid enrollment process; and expand the network of places that can determine eligibility. Democrats promoted the bill on Friday, saying that it would "ease the transition from welfare to work" and encourage public-private cooperation to help small businesses purchase insurance for their employees. House Commerce ranking member John Dingell (D-Mich.) said, "This bill enhances our family values." Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions ranking member Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) added, "America is the only industrial country in the world ... that fails to guarantee health care for all its citizens. It is a national scandal that lack of insurance coverage is the seventh leading -- and most preventable -- cause of death in America today." Republican co- sponsors of the bill include Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine and Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) Although Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair James Jeffords (R-Vt.) gave earlier indications of his support, according to a spokesperson, right now he "is only looking at the bill" because Vermont may not receive as many benefits as other states since it "already implemented some of the programs" (Fulton, 7/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.