The Houston Chronicle reports that the Texas Senate approved a bill to increase enrollment in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) last week. The bill would raise the income eligibility limits from $44,000 to $66,000 for a family of four. An additional 80,000 uninsured children would be covered if the House approves the bill and the governor signs it into law.
“Critics” of the bill are worried that parents who can afford private insurance will sign up for SCHIP, crowding out the program for children from low-income families. The Bush administration cited this concern when vetoing versions of SCHIP that would have expanded the program. Republicans who voted against the bill also were concerned the bill would expand coverage to adults and illegal aliens.
Barack Obama signed a law that reauthorized and expanded SCHIP, offering dental care to children who don’t receive it under private insurance plans, and giving states the option to eliminate a five-year waiting period for pregnant women and for immigrant children to become eligible for the program. However, states must verify that SCHIP enrollees are documented immigrants or citizens.