So, what happened since then……?
The 111th US Congress began on January 6, 2009 and a top priority for this new Congress is to pass legislation
to provide health care for the millions of uninsured children in the United States. In the House of
Representatives, H.R. 2, the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, has been
introduced by Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-06, NJ). Similar legislation that does not yet have a bill number is being
worked on in the Senate. These bills would reauthorize and expand the State Children’s Health Insurance
Program (SCHIP) to provide additional health care coverage for children. This expanded health care coverage
would be paid for by an increase in the federal tobacco excise tax. Below is a federal update on this legislation
that includes a summary of the bills, background information on SCHIP, a status update and next steps.
There are some differences between the House and Senate versions of this bill but the major provisions are
similar. Both H.R. 2 and the Senate bill would reauthorize SCHIP through fiscal year 2013, revise certain
eligibility requirements for the program and provide increased funding for this program. This increase in funding
would be paid for by an increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco products. For cigarettes, there would be a
61-cent tax increase per pack, bringing the total federal tax rate to one dollar/pack. For other tobacco products,
such as cigars and smokeless tobacco products, there would be a proportional tax increase. It is estimated that
this increased funding would provide health care coverage for an additional four million children. The full text of
H.R. 2 is available at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.2:.
Background on SCHIP
SCHIP was originally authorized in 1997 and provides funding to states to provide health insurance for children
that are ineligible for Medicaid but meet other eligibility requirements established by each state. Each state
enacts their own version of the SCHIP program and is required to contribute matching funds. In California, the
program is known as Healthy Families.
In 2007, both the House and the Senate passed legislation, H.R. 976, to reauthorize SCHIP at an increased
funding level with that additional funding provided by an increase in the federal tobacco excise tax. However,
this legislation was vetoed by President Bush. Congress was unable to override his veto and ended up passing
compromise legislation that extended the program without increasing funding or increasing tobacco taxes. This
legislation reauthorized SCHIP through March 31, 2009.
On January 14, the House passed H.R. 2 by a vote of 289-139. On January 15, the Senate Finance Committee
passed the Senate version of the legislation by a vote of 12-7.
The vote details for all the California Members of the House of Representatives are listed below. Complete vote
information for the entire House can be found at http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2009/roll016.xml