I want to note that on Wednesday of this week, the House of Representatives voted to reauthorize SCHIP, which would add more children to government subsidized health insurance. This health care coverage assists children from working families whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. Also worth noting is that the version of this bill that passed the house includes health care coverage for lawfully present immigrant children.
While immigrant advocacy groups are hopeful that the Senate version of this bill will include immigrant children, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) has excluded benefits for this vulnerable group of kids in his marked up version of the bill. Republicans in the Senate are arguing that easing restrictions on immigrant children’s access to the health coverage would provoke an outcry and that the program does not do an adequate job of preventing undocumented immigrants from signing up.
Hispanic Congressional Representatives, including Xavier Becerra (D-CA) and Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), were instrumental in pushing this legislation forward with the provisions for immigrant children. You can see the House Roll Call on this bill here. Thank you Congressional Hispanic Caucus for supporting this!
My thought is that immigrant children, whether undocumented or not, did not have a choice in how they arrived here. Should they need health care, they should receive it. We could avoid public health crises by treating basic illnesses before they become deadly, possibly putting US citizens at risk.
Finally, the House version of SCHIP would be funded by an increase in tobacco excise tax. I’m perfectly fine with tacking additional taxes on tobacco sales. Here is an opportunity to extract something positive from a dirty habit.