What: All Issues : Health Care : Access to Health Insurance : HR 2. (Children’s health insurance) Bingaman of New Mexico amendment that would allow families more ways to expedite applications for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program/On agreeing to the amendment (2009 senate Roll Call 29)
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HR 2. (Children’s health insurance) Bingaman of New Mexico amendment that would allow families more ways to expedite applications for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 29     Jan 29, 2009
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on an amendment by Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., that would allow families more ways to consent to expedited applications for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).  The amendment would expand current practice to include in writing, over the phone, orally, through electronic signatures, or any other means determined appropriate by the government.  This program is known as “Express Lane.”  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.

Bingaman said his amendment is a technical clarification in the Express Lane program that will allow parents to consent to their children’s expedited enrollment in SCHIP or Medicaid through various means not currently available.

“Without this clarification, a child could be determined eligible through Express Lane, but a parent might have to go to a State Medicaid agency to sign a form instead of providing an electronic signature or authorizing coverage over the phone. This is the exact kind of needless bureaucratic hurdle Express Lane is intended to prevent,” Bingaman said.

Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said this amendment would weaken fraud protection written into the original SCHIP law.

“In that bill 2 years ago, we reached a carefully crafted compromise, balancing access and program integrity. With this amendment, the majority backs away from that compromise further. In 2007, we agreed that an express lane application would require a signature from the applicant acknowledging they were applying for Medicaid or SCHIP. This change eliminates the signature requirement.  It is not technical, it is substantive, and it is going to lead to fraud,” Grassley said.

By a vote of 55-43, the amendment was adopted.  All but five Democrats present voted for the amendment.  All but three Republicans present voted against the amendment.  The end result is that the measure went forward with language that will expand the manner in which parents may consent to enroll their children in SCHIP.

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