WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer delivered the following statement on the House Floor today in support of legislation to extend health insurance coverage under the children’s health insurance program to 10 million low-income children. His remarks are as prepared for delivery:
“Mr. Speaker, I believe that we should pass this reauthorization of the highly successful, bipartisan children’s health insurance program with a large number of Republican votes.
“Why? Because we have made significant, concrete changes to the legislation vetoed by President Bush – changes that are designed to address the concerns expressed by some Republican House Members.
“We listened carefully to the criticisms of the vetoed bill.
“We reviewed the letter that 38 House Republicans sent to the President, as well as other letters that were distributed.
“We also worked closely with Senators Grassley and Hatch, who met extensively with House Republicans.
“The bottom line is, we have taken a bipartisan compromise that was strongly supported by the American people – although vetoed by the President – and worked to make it an even stronger bipartisan compromise.
“Specifically, this legislation clarifies that it targets low-income children, prohibiting CHIP coverage above 300 percent of the federal poverty level.
“It clarifies that illegal immigrants are not eligible for coverage under CHIP.
“It clarifies that this bill is focused on children, phasing out coverage for childless adults over one year, not two.
“And, it clarifies that this bill seeks to minimize the number of children moving from private insurance to CHIP – requiring all states to develop plans and implement recommended best practices for minimizing so-called “crowd-out.”
“These are significant, concrete changes – changes that neither affect nor undermine our principal objective: to ensure that 10 million low-income American children who are eligible for coverage under CHIP guidelines today can participate in this successful program.
“And, I remind my colleagues that this indeed was the stated objective of President Bush, when, at the Republican National Convention in 2004, he stated:
“’In a new term, we will lead an aggressive effort to enroll millions of children who are eligible but not signed up for government health insurance programs. We will not allow a lack of attention, or information, to stand between these children and the health care they need.’
“I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this even stronger bipartisan, compromise bill – which does precisely what the President said he would do, but failed to do, if re-elected.
“Stand with the bipartisan majorities in Congress – including 45 House Republicans and 18 Senate Republicans – who voted for the first CHIP bill.
“Stand with the states’ governors, the American Medical Association, the Association of Health Insurance Plans, the pharmaceutical companies, nurses, children’s advocates and others who supported the first CHIP bill.
“Stand with the American people – 81 percent of whom supported the first CHIP bill.
“And, stand with 10 million American children who will receive the health coverage they need and deserve under this legislation.
“This bipartisan compromise addresses your concerns.
“Take ‘yes’ for an answer.
“Vote for America’s children. Vote for this bill.”