When Rep. Dave Reichert cast his Nay vote this evening against the Children’s Health and Medicare Protection Act, he didn’t just cast a vote against providing health care to millions of American children, he voted directly against the financial interests of Washington state. The bill not only provides health coverage to children in working families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but can’t afford insurance, it also more than doubles federal funds available to Washington state to cover uninsured children. According to a press release from Rep. Jay Inslee:
Until now, Washington and 10 other states were penalized for expanding health insurance coverage to children in families with incomes just over the poverty line before the popular State Children’s Insurance Plan (SCHIP) was enacted in 1997. Since enactment, they’ve had to fight every few years to spend even a fraction of unused federal funds to cover children at this income level. States that didn’t cover these children a decade ago have had no such limitation on the use of federal SCHIP funds.
A permanent fix for this inequity was included in the Children’s Health and Medicare Protection (CHAMP) Act, H.R. 3162, legislation that would provide $50 billion in new funding for SCHIP and Medicare. It was secured last week by U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, when the bill was being considered by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over SCHIP. He, along with U.S. Reps. Jim McDermott, Norm Dicks, Adam Smith, Brian Baird and Rick Larsen, then pressed House leadership to keep the Washington state fix in the bill that was considered on the House floor today.
“It’s been an uphill battle to end this injustice,” said Inslee. “The feds shouldn’t have shortchanged kids in Washington when SCHIP was set up a decade ago.”
The bill passed 225 to 204, no thanks to Reichert and the rest of our Republican delegation, who all voted against the interests of Washington state, and with their President Bush. Keep this vote in mind next year when our editorialists laud Reichert for his “conscience-driven independent streak.”