(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) helped the Senate pass a bill for the second time that will strengthen and expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and ensure almost 10 million children will be able to see a doctor.
Senators approved the bill by a vote of 64-30 this afternoon. The vote came three months after the Senate approved it the first time. The first version was vetoed by the President in October. President Bush has threatened to veto the latest version as well.
“I’m pleased that the Senate approved the Children’s Health Insurance Program by an overwhelming margin for the second time,” Senator Murray said today. “This bill is far too important to use as a political hot potato. I hope the President will stop blocking kids’ health care and sign it.”
The new bill represents a compromise in response to concerns raised by the President and some Republicans. Among other things it:
- Addresses concerns about illegal immigrants – The bill requires states to verify names and Social Security numbers of recipients and check citizenship information in the Social Security Administration’s database.
- Ends coverage of child-less adults by the end of one year.
- Concentrates on making sure the poorest kids get covered first.
On Wednesday, Murray spoke on the Senate floor to remind the President and her colleagues that it has been three months since the Senate first approved CHIP, and that the parents of millions of children are still waiting to hear about whether they will continue to get help paying medical bills.
She cited a New York Times article, which reported that unless Congress acts, 21 states will run out of money for the program next year.
"Children’s health shouldn’t be about politics,” added Senator Murray. “I’ve said this over and over. It’s about making sure kids can see a doctor. These kids aren’t Democrats or Republicans. They’re just kids who deserve health care."
The bill is paid for by levying a 61-cent-a-pack increase in the federal excise tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products.