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House Sends Expansion of Kids' Healthcare to President Obama For Signature

February 4, 2009
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) today joined a majority in the House to send to President Obama an expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which funds BadgerCare in Wisconsin. By renewing and improving SCHIP, the bill will provide healthcare coverage for 11 million children nationwide – including 4 million uninsured children who are currently eligible for coverage, but not enrolled. As a member of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, which had a part in crafting this bill, Rep. Kind will attend today’s bill signing ceremony at the White House.

“We’ve been trying to do this for a long time, and I am proud I will be able to witness President Obama sign this bill into law,” Rep. Kind said. “We are lucky that Wisconsin already is a leader in providing healthcare coverage for kids, but this bill will allow us to do even more. In these tough economic times, expanding SCHIP is not only the right thing to do for our kids and families, it will promote preventive care and over the long-run lower healthcare costs for everyone.”

BadgerCare provides coverage to working families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private insurance. This bill will provide Wisconsin with an additional $18.9 million a year to expand BadgerCare coverage to kids who qualify but are not currently insured.

To fund the increase in SCHIP, the bill raises the federal tax on cigarette packs by 61 cents. Higher cigarette taxes are one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use, especially among children who are more price sensitive than adults. Adults would also be less likely to smoke, which means fewer smoking related illnesses and lower health costs. A tax increase of 61 cents would lead to nearly $44 billion in long-term health savings nationwide, more than 900,000 fewer smoking-related deaths, and nearly 233,000 fewer smoking-harmed births over just five years.

“With all the proven adverse health effects of smoking, the more kids we can keep from starting and the more adults we can encourage to quit – the better,” Rep. Kind said. “Kids are cost-sensitive, so this is the single most important thing we can do to prevent kids from smoking. And if it allows us to extend coverage to an additional four million kids nationwide, even better. This is a win-win.