What: All Issues : Aid to Less Advantaged People, at Home & Abroad : America's Poor : HR 2. (Children’s health insurance) Motion to kill an amendment that would prohibit states that allow families earning more than 200 percent over the poverty level to participate in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to qualify as a “shortfall state”/On the motion (2009 senate Roll Call 20)
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HR 2. (Children’s health insurance) Motion to kill an amendment that would prohibit states that allow families earning more than 200 percent over the poverty level to participate in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to qualify as a “shortfall state”/On the motion
senate Roll Call 20     Jan 28, 2009
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on whether to kill an amendment by John Cornyn, R-Texas, that would prohibit states that allow children whose families earn more than 200 percent above the federal poverty level to participate in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program from being considered “shortfall states.”  A “shortfall state” is one that exhausts all of its allotted funding in a given year, and then becomes eligible for redistributed funding from another state that might not use all of its funds. The amendment was offered to a bill that expands and reauthorizes the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which offers health insurance for children of families who are too poor to purchase private health insurance, but not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid.

Cornyn’s amendment takes aim at a portion of the SCHIP program that allows states to use their SCHIP funding to cover children from families earning more than 200 percent above the poverty level, which he said is misguided.

“Across the country, thousands of children are eligible but not enrolled in health insurance programs such as Medicaid or SCHIP, and I believe we need to focus on those children first,” Cornyn said.  “Unfortunately, the bill that is now on the floor is structured in such a way that it provides billions of taxpayer dollars to cover children whose parents earn up to $100,000 and more and eliminates the requirement that States first cover low-income children before expanding their programs.”

Max Baucus, D-Mont., said Cornyn’s amendment would have the effect of kicking deserving children off of the state’s health insurance plan.  He said the federal poverty level does not reflect costs of living in every part of the country, such as portions of New England and the Eastern Seaboard, where costs of living are very high.  He said an income of just at 200 percent of the federal poverty level is about $44,000 annually for a family of four.

“Most States made that decision for those kids to be included. The Federal poverty level is a national figure, so we cannot apply the Federal poverty level fairly to New York or Mississippi or other States because it is not relevant because the income levels of States are different. It is not fair to take kids, in my judgment, off SCHIP,” Baucus said.

By a vote of 64-33, the motion was adopted.  All but one Democrat present voted for the motion.  All but eight Republicans present voted against the motion.  The end result is that the motion passed, Cornyn’s amendment was killed, and the bill went forward without language stipulating that states which allow families with incomes above 200 percent of the federal poverty level to qualify for SCHIP cannot be counted as “shortfall states.”

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