January 29, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) voted against a reauthorization and expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which passed by a vote of 66 to 32. The SCHIP program was originally the product of a Republican Congress and was enacted into law beginning in 1997 to provide health care to low-income children from families with incomes up to 200% ($44,000 for family of 4 in 2009) of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).
"I have long been dedicated to quality health care and desire to see my fellow Oklahomans and all Americans receive the best possible health care with the most choices," Senator Inhofe said. "However, we must be cautious of small steps that lead to universal government-run health care rather than a consumer driven health care market, which would provide Americans with a wide array of choices and the opportunity to make their own decisions about their health care.
"I could not lend my support to this legislation because it did not focus its efforts on the low-income children who have no other resource for health insurance and pushes middle income families with access to private insurance into government sponsored health care.
"I cosponsored an alternative approach, called the Kids First Act, which was a more fiscally responsible reauthorization of SCHIP, as it was originally written, to cover targeted low-income children up to 200% FPL and to provide for additional outreach to low-income kids in need of health insurance. Unfortunately, Democrats rejected this approach and shot down reasonable Republican amendments intended to ensure that targeted low-income children up to 200% FPL receive health care coverage."
Republicans offered amendments that would have done the following:
-Deem unborn children eligible for health assistance;
-Reinstate language that would work to limit the crowd-out effect (when public subsidies encourage people to give up their private insurance);
-Prevent fraud and restore fiscal accountability in the Medicaid and SCHIP programs; and
-Reinstate the Mexico City policy, which prohibits the U.S. from providing assistance to nongovernmental organizations that provide abortion and family planning services.
In each case, the Democratic Majority defeated Republican amendment after amendment designed to restore the program to its original intent.