January 29, 2009

Gillibrand Votes to Bring Health Coverage to 11 Million Children

Children’s Health Insurance Program Expected to Provide Coverage to 275,000 uninsured kids in New York

Washington, DC - Today, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced that she voted in favor of H.R.2, the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act, which will provide basic health coverage to more than 11 million children in families who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to afford health insurance.  This bill, which the Senator also voted in favor of earlier this year while a member of the House of Representatives, passed with broad bipartisan support.

"Making sure children have basic health insurance is a fundamental moral issue, and I am proud to have been able to support this bill in one of my first votes in the Senate," said Senator Gillibrand.  "More than 350,000 New York children currently lack health care and with the rising cost of premiums, the federal government needs to ensure our most vulnerable are protected."

The SCHIP program currently covers about 7 million children across the country, and the new bill is expected to bring an additional 4 million kids into the program, including 275,000 in New York.  The program is jointly run by the states and the federal government and is known as Child Health Plus in New York.  The legislation is expected to bring an extra $90 million into the state to cover the cost of the program, helping address the state's budget deficit.

In addition to voting in the favor of the bill, the Senator also opposed several Republican amendments that would have eliminated the bill's coverage of legal immigrants or threatened the ability of New York to expand coverage to its remaining uninsured populations.

"Five years is a lifetime for a child," said Senator Gillibrand, "and no child should be required to wait that long to get access to health care."

Expanding and improving the SCHIP program has been a major priority for Senator Gillibrand since entering Congress.  Both the House and Senate passed two pieces of legislation two years ago which would have achieved this goal, but both bills were vetoed by President Bush.  President Obama voted for the legislation as a Senator and is expected to sign the new legislation.