09.27.07

A children’s health care plan should focus on kids Enzi advocates efficiency over political expediency

Washington, D.C. - An efficient children’s health insurance plan shouldconcentrate resources and funding on kids who need it most, not balloon to encompassadults and lure away those already covered by private insurance, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi,R-Wyo., Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP)Committee, said today. Enzi advocates a plan that would exclude all earmarks and provisions unrelated tothe SCHIP (State Child Health Insurance Program), save money and actually providecoverage for more kids. “Every child in America should have health insurance and access to quality healthcare. We should renew SCHIP and keep it strong,” Enzi said. “The alternative SCHIPlegislation I support fully funds and strengthens the current state children’s program. Ameaningful solution would target kids in families that don’t qualify for Medicaid, butcan’t afford to get health insurance on their own, so they can receive the care they need.”Enzi opposed a version of the SCHIP renewal that went before the Senate today,which would add $35 billion in spending to the current Republican commitment of $25billion. Enzi objects to watering down funding for children’s health care by allowingparents and childless adults to access the additional $35 billion in funding. Childrenshould get the funding first. “We need to help all Americans get health insurance, but there are better, moreefficient ways than spoiling a good children’s plan,” Enzi said. “I have introduced a firstclass10-step plan that would help us achieve the goal of comprehensive health carereform. We need our tax dollars to work hard for us, like they do in SCHIP, but we don’twant them wasted on the expansion of another federal program that has lost sight of itsoriginal mission.” Enzi said the plan being pushed by the majority party in the Senate would not beas efficient as providing to children in the private market. Under some circumstancesadults would be included. In some places solidly middle class children and adults wouldbe included, even though there are still many thousands of children in lower incomefamilies, including many kids in Wyoming, who are not. It would also encourage familiesthat have private coverage to stop paying those bills and instead opt for the federalgovernment to pay for their health insurance through SCHIP. “It simply isn’t fair to kids whose parents can’t afford their health insurance, totake SCHIP funding for adult health care,” Enzi said. “We need to preserve SCHIP andfully-fund its original intent, which has worked wonders in Wyoming and across thecountry. We shouldn’t create a new federal entitlement and we shouldn’t be laying thefoundation for Castro-style health care, which Americans don’t want.” “Right now in Wyoming, almost half of the uninsured children who are eligiblefor SCHIP coverage are not enrolled,” Enzi said. “We need to work on getting thesechildren, and other children in need across the country, the health care they deservebefore we start using SCHIP money to cover middle class adults. The people ofWyoming should not foot the bill for someone in another state making over $80,000,while our own children lack the care they need. It’s not right.” Enzi is disappointed that today’s debate was limited to the state children’s healthinsurance program, noting the urgent health care needs of about 45 million uninsuredAmericans remain unmet. “Every health care dollar we pour into a bad plan is a dollar we could use for agood one,” Enzi said. “We have an opportunity to reauthorize and improve a goodchildren’s health care bill and also to get to work on broad and sweeping health carereform that includes everyone – kids, parents, and senior citizens. ###

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