TriCaucus Seeks Restoration of SCHIP Provisions To Address Health Care Access for Immigrant Children
The TriCaucus -- members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus -- has sent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) a letter urging that two provisions be restored to the SCHIP reauthorization bill to improve health care access for immigrant children, The Hill reports.
House Democrats, in an effort to gain enough Republican votes to override President Bush's veto of the SCHIP reauthorization bill, removed a provision of the measure that would have reversed a five-year waiting period for documented immigrants to receive government benefits and another provision requiring proof of citizenship to receive such benefits. Republicans have said that the provisions would allow undocumented immigrants to receive government-sponsored benefits at the expense of U.S. taxpayers.
TriCaucus members maintain that the proof of citizenship requirement has led to hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens being denied coverage because parents could not find the needed documentation. In addition, a 2007 Government Accountability Office report found that the documentation requirement cost more to implement than the amount of money it saved. The TriCaucus letter stated, "We urge you to include provisions in this bill which address the needs of children in communities of color and respectfully request a meeting with you to discuss this critical issue."
Jennifer Ng'andu of the National Council of La Raza said that the provisions are a separate issue from immigration, adding, "We had a worse bill based on an argument that had no credibility. Members of Congress are going to have to decide whether they want to put children first or put partisan politics first" (Soraghan, The Hill, 8/12).