January 12, 2009

To:      Members of the U.S. House of Representatives

From:   Mary G. Wilson, President

Re:      SCHIP Reauthorization

The League of Women Voters urges you to support reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) when it comes to the House floor for a vote.  In the years since Congress first passed SCHIP, the program has provided access to health care coverage to six million low-income children.  However, there are still over nine million children who remain uninsured.

The League of Women Voters has long supported the concept of universal access to quality health care.  We believe that all children should have comprehensive health care including preventive and primary care and that programs like SCHIP play a key role in promoting the health, well being and full development of children. 

The benefits of SCHIP are clear.  The program has played a critical role in reaching uninsured low-income children who are not eligible for Medicaid.  Over the past decade, six million children have been covered by SCHIP in addition to the 28 million children covered by Medicaid.  As a result, the percentage of low-income children in the United States without health coverage has fallen by one-third in the past decade even as employer-based coverage has decreased.

But there is still much to be done.  Even with these advances, over nine million children, many of whom are eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP are without heath coverage.  Unless the program is fully funded, those children currently covered under SCHIP could lose their coverage.

Reauthorization of this important program is long overdue.  The League of Women Voters urges you to reauthorize SCHIP so that those children currently in the program can continue to receive this critically needed health coverage while extending coverage to those children who are eligible but not in the program.