State Representative Ellen Cohen on Passage of CHIP Expansion Bill

May. 18, 2009 in Press Releases

State Representative Ellen Cohen commended her House colleagues in passing House Bill 2962, which improves and expands eligibility for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

“For many of us passionate about public health, this issue has been a top priority. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to both Representative Garnet Coleman, the author of HB 2962, and Representative John Zerwas, a fellow coauthor, for their work in getting this key legislation passed,” Cohen said.

By restoring eligibility to pre-2003 levels and working to ensure that children who are eligible but not enrolled in CHIP are targeted for enrollment, HB 2962 addresses some of the biggest challenges in covering uninsured children.

“Children living in middle-income families are increasingly joining the ranks of the uninsured because employer-based health insurance premiums have more than doubled since 2000. Reducing the number of uninsured children in Texas, now one in five, would benefit not only the children’s physical health but the fiscal strength of Texas taxpayers,” Cohen stressed.

During the budget debate within the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, Representative Cohen fought vigorously for expanding CHIP by supporting the passage of Rider 58 which will use unexpended balances to expand coverage to eligible persons up to 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

For every dollar invested in CHIP, the State of Texas receives approximately $2.65 in matching federal funds. To date, Texas has turned away over $1 billion in these federal matching funds.

Cohen also underscored that the expense of emergency room care to which families without insurance turn and the lack of a federal match is fiscally detrimental to Texas. Increasing the number of children covered is, therefore, an investment in a more productive and healthy future for the state.