House Fails To Protect Children's Health Programs In Spending Bill, Menendez Criticizes The Omission

House Fails To Protect Children's Health Programs In Spending Bill, Menendez Criticizes The Omission

Menendez has been one of the Senate's leading proponents for strong SCHIP support and a defender of NJ's FamilyCare program

Washington - Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a supplemental appropriations bill that did not match the Senate's commitment to rejecting a Bush administration rule change jeopardizing state health insurance program coverage for thousands of children.

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who has been one of the Senate's leading proponents for strong federal support of children's health insurance programs and has helped fend off legislation specifically targeting New Jersey's strong FamilyCare program, said today that he was disappointed with the House's failure to provide for a moratorium on the administration rule. Without such a moratorium, tens of thousands of children who have already been left uninsured because of the directive will continue to lose out on coverage, and over time, hundreds of thousands of additional children will not have the health coverage their state determined they need.

"With American families forced to spend more of their earnings on gas and food, now more than ever we need to make sure children who otherwise would have no health insurance are covered. It is sad that in a bill that sends millions upon millions more American taxpayer dollars to Iraq, the House couldn't include one little provision for the health of many thousands of children right here at home. I understand that the House wants to avoid a veto by President Bush and that there was a need to craft a bill that could pass, but seems to me that that ensuring health care for our nation's children would be a top priority.

"The Bush administration's cold-hearted rule simply ignores the reality families in high cost-of-living states are facing, particularly in this terrible economy. These are families who fall in the gap between Medicaid and increasingly-expensive private health insurance, and their children are left to suffer because of it. As we look forward, I will continue to stand up for these children, as will many of my colleagues. I know Senator Lautenberg, the New Jersey delegation and I will fight to keep New Jersey children covered."

On August 17, 2007, the administration issued a directive prohibiting federal support for state health insurance for children whose families make more than 2.5 times the poverty limit. This rule, which included a one-year time limit for states to comply, affects children in states with high costs of living, like New Jersey. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) was able to attach an amendment with a moratorium on the president's rule to the Senate-passed supplemental appropriations bill, but the House refused to include it in the current version.

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