Yesterday, SCHIP, or the State Children's Health Insurance Program, passed the U.S. Senate by 66 to 32 and will now be signed into law. SCHIP assists states in providing health insurance for families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to buy private health insurance.
Included in the bill was full provision for children of immigrant families. The passage of SCHIP with this provision is a great victory for immigrant families and immigrant rights advocates.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures:
“One in five children under age 18 (14 million) is either an immigrant or is a member of an immigrant family...and are more likely than those with U.S.-born parents to live in poverty and are less likely to have health insurance and to receive medical care.”The lack of access to healthcare for the children in immigrant families means:
“that these children are " ... less likely to receive timely care for acute conditions (such as ear infections, injuries, or communicable diseases), less likely to have their chronic conditions (such as asthma or diabetes) diagnosed and appropriately managed, and less likely to receive preventive care." The lack of primary and preventive care is also potentially costly by allowing disease to become more serious and resulting in the increased use of hospital emergency rooms.”
The passage of the SCHIP bill yesterday is expected to change all that.The bill didn’t pass without opposition from Republicans. National Public Radio reported on Tuesday that Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) and Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) opposed coverage for children of immigrant families without a five year waiting period.
The bill will now go on to President Obama’s desk for signature early next week.