Vitale Blasts New Federal Rules to Undercut SCHIP

Says Administration’s Rule Changes Will Hurt State’s Efforts to Increase Enrollment

TRENTON – Senator Joseph F. Vitale, Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee issued the following statement today regarding President Bush’s newly adopted standards for expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) which, the Senator says, are “a poorly veiled threat to eliminate health insurance for hundreds of thousands of our nation’s children.”

“New Jersey is one of many states around the nation that recognizes what a hardship health care costs can be on low or middle-income families. In New Jersey, we’ve sought to increase support for families struggling to meet soaring healthcare costs. The SCHIP partnership of Federal and State resources has worked to increase access to care and the well-being of children.

“President Bush’s newest rules, through an administrative short cut jeopardizes efforts to protect the health and safety of millions of kids around the nation. Once again, his Administration has shown that it is out of touch with the needs of America’s families, pushing a right-wing agenda which does little to help children in need.

“These new rules continue the President’s failed track record on needed health care resources. He has threatened to veto pending Congressional legislation which would actually expand resources to promote greater coverage for the uninsured.

“While I’m confident that Congress has the votes to override the wrong-headed plans of the President when it comes to SCHIP, the Administration needs to get its priorities in order when it comes to vital health care safety net programs. Imposing impossible standards to qualify for SCHIP expansion only shows that the President is hoping to bury this needed program under mountains of bureaucratic red tape. New Jersey, and the nation, deserves better.”