Yesterday, in a victory for the families of small-business owners and their employees, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation that will improve accessibility of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program [SCHIP] program. Senators John Kerry [D-Mass.] and Olympia Snowe [R-Maine] attached an amendment to the legislation that will create a governmental task force to enroll more children in the program. The provision requires the Small Business Administration [SBA] to team with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Secretary of Labor to educate small business owners, employees and the self-employed about the eligibility and enrollment requirements for SCHIP.
“President Bush’s threat to veto kids’ health care means that as many as 4.4 million children, including the sons and daughters of small-business owners and the self-employed, will be denied access to health coverage,” said Sen. Kerry, chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. “Democrats and Republicans came together to put the health and safety of American children ahead of politics and ideology. President Bush should drop his ill-conceived veto threat and do right by our nation’s children by giving them health care.”
"The amendment I cosponsored with Senator Kerry would create a multi-agency campaign, including the Small Business Administration, to help enroll children in the SCHIP program who are currently eligible for the program, but not currently enrolled," explained Sen. Snowe, ranking member of Kerry's committee. "Many of these children come from families who work for a small business or are self-employed. It is imperative that the SBA and its resource partners actively work to reduce the number of uninsured children in this country."
The Kerry-Snowe amendment, modeled after the Small Business Children’s Health Education Act [S. 1714], would:
* Establish an Intergovernmental Task Force to conduct a nationwide campaign of education and outreach for small businesses regarding the availability of coverage through SCHIP and/or other private insurance options;
* Encourage the use of SBA’s business partners -- including Small Business Development Centers, Certified Development Companies, Women's Business Centers, and SCORE -- as well as private and non-profit groups, to increase SCHIP enrollment;
* Create a hotline for small businesses to call with questions about SCHIP eligibility and enrollment; and
* Require SBA to provide prominent online access to information on eligibility and enrollment requirements.
GoodBiz113's take: SCHIP is far-reaching, win-win-win legislation that truly benefits current and future generations of workers, small-business owners, entrepreneurs, and self-employed people. Replete with enthusiastic support from both sides of the political aisle, SCHIP deserves to be enacted and funded ASAP.
Sources: Library of Congress, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Wikipedia
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