On August 1, 2007, the House passed the Children's Health and Medicare Protection Act (CHAMP), H.R. 3162 by a vote of 225-204. The bill provides health care to 11 million children, reverses the Republican drive to privatize Medicare, and strengthens our Medicare system. The legislation is paid for by a 45 cent tobacco tax increase, which would save billions in health costs and mean that fewer young people and adults take up smoking.
Watch the Speaker's floor statement in support of the bill:
Specifically, this legislation includes:
State Children's Health Insurance Program
The successful State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), established in 1997, serves as a crucial health care safety net for low-income uninsured children. Since it began, the number of these children without health insurance has fallen by one-third. Currently, six million children have health care because of CHIP.
However, funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program expires on September 30, and if Congress does not act, these six million children will lose their health insurance. This legislation will ensure that the children currently in the program retain their insurance, and provide incentives to states to enroll additional eligible children. The majority of uninsured children are currently eligible for coverage through CHIP or Medicaid - but better outreach and adequate funding is needed to identify and enroll them. This legislation would provide health care coverage to five million uninsured children who are eligible for but not currently enrolled in CHIP--bringing the total of insured children to 11 million.
Insuring America's children is an affordable goal. It costs less than $3.50 a day - about the cost of a Starbucks Frappuccino - to cover a child through CHIP.
If Congress fails to approve the CHAMP Act and reauthorize CHIP:
o Millions of children will lose health coverage;
o Millions of children won't get the preventive care they need and will likely receive care in the more costly environment of emergency rooms;
o Our health care safety net will become even more strained from the pressures of the uninsured; and
o More families will face bankruptcy and foreclosure due to medical debt.
The CHAMP Act also protects Medicare from privatization and promotes fiscal responsibility by reducing overpayments to private plans.
Existing overpayments to private plans cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars. According to non-partisan analysts, private plans are paid, on average, 12% more than traditional Medicare - and overpayments to certain plans exceed 50%.
These overpayments are the result of a decade-long campaign by President Bush and Republicans in Congress to privatize Medicare by undermining traditional Medicare and promoting private insurance. Republicans believe that the greater the number of beneficiaries enrolled in private plans, the easier it will be to privatize Medicare.
Full-fledged privatization would eliminate Medicare's guaranteed benefit and force beneficiaries to fend for themselves. The result will be higher costs, fewer benefits, and less health care for seniors and people with disabilities.
The Act also:
- Limits Premium Increases: By reducing overpayments to private plans, the CHAMP Act increases Medicare's solvency, protects beneficiaries from higher premiums, and strengthens Medicare's finances for the future.
- Ensures Patient Access to Physicians: The CHAMP Act guarantees seniors and people with disabilities can continue to see their doctors by preventing scheduled physician payment cuts from taking place and providing doctors with positive updates for the next two years.
- Improves Benefits for All Beneficiaries: The CHAMP Act increases Medicare beneficiaries' access to preventive services, saving lives and money. It eliminates co-payments and deductibles for current and future preventive benefits and empowers Medicare to add additional preventive services based on the U.S. Preventive Health Services Task Force's recommendations and without Congressional approval.
- Helps Those Most in Need: The CHAMP Act makes health care more affordable and attainable for low-income seniors and people with disabilities by expanding programs that assist beneficiaries with co-payments and deductibles and prescription drug costs. It increases asset limits and expands education and outreach efforts to facilitate greater participation in these important programs.
- Reduces Health Disparities The CHAMP Act works to eliminate disparities in health care under the Medicare program. It provides Medicare with tools to analyze and identify racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in health care.
- Defends Rural Health Care: The CHAMP Act extends expiring provisions that, if left unchanged, would negatively affect rural beneficiaries' access to physicians, hospitals, home health, ambulances, and lab services.
- Protects Consumers: The CHAMP Act adds important consumer protections to Medicare. It provides states with the authority to regulate private plans' marketing abuses and increases penalties for violations, enables all beneficiaries to switch Part D plans if plans alter their formularies and empowers low-income beneficiaries to change plans at any time. It also requires greater quality reporting to assure patients are getting the best care available.