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Rep. Kind Votes to Cover More Kids

January 14, 2009
Press Release

SCHIP Bill will Help BadgerCare Provide Coverage to More Wisconsin Kids

WASHINGTON, DC –U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) today joined a majority in the House (289-139) in voting to advance 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.

“Wisconsin already is a leader in providing health care coverage for kids, and this bill will allow us to do even more,” Rep. Kind said. “In these tough economic times, parents are having even greater difficulty finding ways to pay for their kids’ health insurance. This is not only the right thing to do for our kids and families, expanding coverage will promote preventive care and lower health insurance costs for everyone.”

BadgerCare provides health care to working families that 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. “Each pack of cigarettes sold in Wisconsin costs the state nearly $10 in related health care expenses. Not only is the increase the single most important thing we can do to prevent kids from smoking, it will save lives and save money, and it will help provide health care coverage for an additional four million kids nationwide.”

This legislation was advanced several times in the last Congress, only to face two vetoes by President Bush. The goal is to get the bill to President-elect Obama for signature sometime in the next few weeks

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