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KENNEDY, SMITH, ROCKEFELLER AND SNOWE FIGHT TO PROTECT OUR NATION’S CHILDREN Work to prevent drastic restrictions Children’s Health Insurance Program

WASHINGTON, D.C—Senators Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), Gordon H. Smith (R-OR), JayRockefeller (D-WV), and Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) released the following statements on thelegislation introduced today that will prevent states from having to drastically restricting thenumber of children who can access care. The bill specifically prohibits the implementation of rules put in place by the Centers forMedicare and Medicaid Services that would essentially prohibit states from providing qualityhealth coverage to children whose family income is above 250% of the federal poverty level.This revokes that policy and would allow states to cover children at income levels that mostappropriate for their state. Senator Kennedy said, “Once again, the Bush Administration has shown itself to be out oftouch and out of step with the priorities of working Americans. The Children’s HealthInsurance Program was passed to provide health coverage to all of our nation’s children- notjust those the Administration chooses. This bill allows states to continue to have the flexibilityto make the right decision for their children and will help secure coverage for children acrossthe country. Partisan politics have no place in safeguarding the health of our children and Iurge the Administration to listen to the will of the American people, and to Congress, and toput the needs of our children first.” “This is a disappointing attempt by the Administration that would inhibit states’ ability to covermore uninsured kids,” said Senator Smith. “SCHIP is a valuable and life-saving program thatgives America’s children a chance at a healthy future. We will do all we can to try to block thispolicy and deliver a sensible SCHIP package to states.” "The President needs to know that we will not stand by and let his Administration pull the rugout from children and their families,” Senator Rockefeller said. "Decisions about cost of livingand what constitutes poverty should be left to the states who can best determine who canafford health insurance and who cannot. These decisions should not be made by thePresident who is clearly trying to use bureaucratic hurdles to block children from receivingnecessary health care." "Health coverage has grown so expensive that even above 250 percent of the Federal povertyline, many families simply cannot afford it. In my state of Maine, a family faced withpurchasing a policy on the individual market could face a cost well in excess of $24,000 ayear,” Senator Snowe said. “So it is no wonder that so many states are working to reach morechildren in families in which health care remains unaffordable. We in the Senate have achieveda bipartisan consensus to ensure continued progress to protect the health of every child. Thislegislation will rightfully block efforts to impose onerous and unreasonable restrictions on thestates efforts to reach every child in need, and will focus us all on the essential task ofcompleting the reauthorization of SCHIP.” ###