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Rep. Kind, Health Care Advocates Hail CHAMP Act as Huge Win for Kids and Seniors in Wisconsin

August 29, 2007
Press Release

‘Bill invests in the next generation, greatest generation,’ Kind says

LA CROSSE – U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), today joined health care advocates, physicians, and seniors at a news conference at Franciscan Skemp Healthcare in La Crosse to hail the Children’s Health & Medicare Protection Act of 2007 (CHAMP Act) as a landmark commitment to children’s health and Medicare beneficiaries. The CHAMP Act, recently passed by the House of Representatives, will expand health care coverage to millions of kids while also expanding and protecting Medicare coverage for the millions of seniors who depend on it.

“This bill invests in the next generation, and our greatest generation,” Rep. Kind said. “The CHAMP Act will allow Wisconsin to do so much more for our kids and our seniors, while being fiscally responsible and actually strengthening these programs for the future.”

The CHAMP Act benefits Wisconsin in a number of ways, including increasing by $29.7 million Wisconsin’s share of the State Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which funds BadgerCare and covers nearly 56,000 of Wisconsin’s kids. The increase gives the state the opportunity to cover additional kids who qualify but are currently uninsured.

“As a nurse I see the effects of our health care crisis everyday,” said Dian Palmer, State Council President of SEIU. “We absolutely must ensure that people get the affordable quality care they deserve, beginning with our children. SEIU thanks Congressman Kind for voting for passage of the CHAMP Act because healthier families and a healthy next generation is a smart investment in Wisconsin’s future.”

The total investment in SCHIP is $50 billion, which will extend healthcare coverage to an additional 12 million kids nationally. In addition to increased coverage, the CHAMP Act also provides more and better dental care for kids by adding a guaranteed dental benefit to SCHIP for the first time. Under current law, states can choose whether or not children receive these important services.

“Increasing access to dental care for all Wisconsin residents needs to be a priority at both the federal and state levels,” Rep. Jennifer Shilling said. “I applaud Congressman Kind's efforts to guarantee that all children are able to receive quality dental care.”

Under CHAMP, seniors and people with disabilities will also benefit, by guaranteeing that they will be able to continue to see their doctors. The CHAMP Act prevents a scheduled 10 percent cut to physician payments, which would have placed Medicare beneficiaries’ access to doctors at risk.

Beyond access to doctors, CHAMP also expands preventive care for seniors by eliminating all copayments for preventive services such as: initial physical exams; cancer screenings; screenings for cardiovascular disease and diabetes; immunizations; Glaucoma screenings; and bone mass measurement for osteoporosis.

“AARP Wisconsin applauds Congressman Kind for improving access to healthcare for thousands of older Americans and children across the state,” said Rollie Solberg, AARP volunteer leader from La Crosse. “The Children’s Health and Medicare Protection Act makes long overdue improvements in Medicare – ensuring that people in Medicare will continue to have access to their doctors; promoting cost-effective preventive health care; and increasing low-income assistance to help those who need it the most.”

Rural healthcare is also protected under the bill. It includes a $3 billion rural package that ensures rural doctors are paid the same rate for their work as their urban counterparts, provides incentives to doctors practicing in areas where there is a shortage, helps rural hospitals cover lab costs, and protects rural home health with additional reimbursement to cover greater transportation costs.

Finally, CHAMP makes a commitment to fiscal responsibility by rewarding efficiency in Medicare. The bill establishes a new bonus payment for efficient physicians, including Wisconsin doctors practicing in 27 counties across the state. In western Wisconsin, efficiency payments will go to doctors in Buffalo, Crawford, Dunn, Iowa, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Pierce, Richland, Trempealeau, and Vernon counties.

“The CHAMP Act is a tremendous step in the right direction for delivering quality healthcare to key populations in Western Wisconsin – children, seniors and those in rural areas,” said Robert Nesse, MD, President & CEO of Franciscan Skemp. “With the emphasis on preventive care this legislation will helps have more positive outcomes and make our operations more efficient and effective.”

The CHAMP Act is supported by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the American Hospital Association (AHA), among others.