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Adam Thompson on February 5, 2009 - 10:53am
Calling it "a down payment on my commitment to cover every single American", President Obama signed into law an expansion of SCHIP, the State Children's Health Insurance Program. The law, twice vetoed by President Bush, will enable states to expand coverage to 4 million uninsured children by 2013 and maintain coverage for the roughly 7 million currently enrolled in the program. The law signed by President Obama includes several key advances:
- It allows states to cover documented immigrant children and pregnant women, who previously were not eligible or faced a 5 year waiting period
- It requires parity for mental health - meaning states must cover mental health care at a level on par with coverage for physical care, and
- It requires states to provide dental coverage under their SCHIP programs.
Passage of the SCHIP expansion is seen as an early win for the Obama Administration and the new Congress, and an important step towards broader health care reform. In signing the legislation, President Obama said, this "is just one component of a much broader effort to finally bring our health care system into the twenty-first century." Similarly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “This is the beginning of the change that the American people voted for in the last election, and that we will achieve with President Barack Obama."
Families USA - Children's Health