Senate Must Address Funding Shortfall for Children's Health Care Says Mikulski

WASHINGTON - As the 109th Congress nears the end of its session, Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) joined a group of her colleagues in sending a letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), calling for them to address the funding shortfall for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) for fiscal year 2007 before Congress adjourns. If left unresolved, more than 600,000 children's health care coverage will be at risk.

"The SCHIP program provides health insurance to the children of many of America's working families. I fought to create the SCHIP program in 1997 and I have been fighting ever since to expand coverage and increase payment to states," said Mikulski. "I know that states want to do the right thing, but they can't do it on their own. I will keep standing up for a federal government that fulfills its responsibilities to America's families and America's children."

The text of the letter is reprinted below:

Dear Leaders Frist and Reid,

As the 109th Congress draws to a close, we wanted to convey our deep concern about the critical funding shortfalls our states, among others, face in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) for fiscal year 2007. If not immediately addressed, these shortfalls would place healthcare coverage for over 600,000 children at risk. To protect children's health coverage in our states, it is, in our view, imperative that Congress enact legislation to fully fill the FY07 shortfalls before we adjourn.

According to the Congressional Research Service, 17 states lack sufficient federal funding to maintain their current caseloads this year. CRS currently estimates the FY07 shortfall to be approximately $927 million. Because of annual increases in healthcare costs combined with growing SCHIP enrollment nationwide, SCHIP program costs have outpaced the federal funding available to these states for this current fiscal year.

In recent years, this country has made significant progress in reducing the number of uninsured children. The Census Bureau, however, recently reported that more than 300,000 children fell into the ranks of the uninsured last year. If the Congress fails to act to fill the FY07 funding gap in full, we would likely see even more children lose their healthcare coverage.

Accordingly, we ask you to ensure that, before the 109th Congress finally adjourns, Congress enacts legislation that addresses the SCHIP funding shortfall in order to fully protect healthcare coverage in our states.


Poor Kids Imperiled by Health Funding Shortfall, Oct. 18, 2006

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