House Health Care Bill Delivers for Northwest Washington Kids and Seniors</A

Aug 1, 2007

Washington, D.C. - The U.S. House of Representatives has passed health care legislation that would more than double federal funds available to Washington state to cover uninsured children in families who live just above the poverty level, help make sure Washington seniors on Medicare get the care they need, and provide health care coverage for 11 million children across the country. U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02) voted for the legislation, called the Children’s Health and Medicare Protection (CHAMP) Act (HR 3162), which passed the House tonight by a vote of 225 to 204. 

“This bill provides health insurance for 11 million kids and delivers a fair fix for Washington state’s children’s health insurance program,” said Larsen. “This Congress has delivered for the American people by investing in veterans’ health care, a higher minimum wage, and help for students struggling to afford school, among other accomplishments.  Now we need to get this bill through the Senate so we can deliver health insurance to millions of kids and strengthen Medicare for seniors.”

Larsen joined Washington state Democrats in the House and Senate to demand a children’s health care funding fix for Washington state. Washington and 10 other states have been penalized for expanding health insurance coverage to children in families with incomes just over the poverty line before the State Children’s Insurance Plan (SCHIP) became law in 1997.  Since that federal legislation was enacted, Washington state has been unable to spend its full federal SCHIP allotment to cover children just over the poverty line.  States that didn’t cover these children a decade ago have had no such limitation on the use of federal SCHIP funds.  A permanent solution for this inequity was included in the CHAMP Act which passed the House tonight.

The CHAMP Act would continue SCHIP coverage for 6 million children while extending health care coverage to 5 million more low-income children.  SCHIP was established in 1997, and must be reauthorized by the House and Senate by September 30, 2007. If the program is not reauthorized by September 30, 6 million children nationwide could lose their health care.

Larsen also worked with Washington state Democrats to secure a 5 percent Medicare payment bonus for efficient doctors. Doctors practicing in counties in the lowest 5th percentile of Medicare spending would receive a bonus payment for their efficient care. The overall bill also prevents a scheduled 15 percent cut to Medicare physician reimbursements over the next 2 years.

Because of low Medicare payments, many seniors in Northwest Washington have struggled to find a doctor who will accept Medicare.  By providing increased Medicare payments for efficient doctors, the CHAMP Act will help make sure that Medicare beneficiaries have access to needed medical care close to home. 

“Many seniors in my district have a tough time finding a doctor who accepts Medicare,” said Larsen. “This legislation will help keep clinic doors open for seniors in Northwest Washington by rewarding efficient doctors with increased payments to make sure seniors can get the care they need.”