On January 14, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (H.R. 2) (the “Act”) by a vote of 289-139. The Act would expand coverage and extend the effective date of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (“SCHIP”), which is set to expire at the end of 2009 fiscal year. SCHIP was originally enacted in 1997 to provide healthcare to children who do not have insurance because their families cannot afford private insurance and who live in a household with an income above the qualifying income for Medicaid.

The Act would extend SCHIP through the 2013 fiscal year, as well as expand its coverage to an estimated 4 million children. The costs of the Act are expected to be funded by an increase in the federal cigarette tax. Additionally, the Act would remove the current 5-year waiting period to receive coverage for children after becoming legal U.S. residents. In total, the Act is similar to legislation proposed during 2008 that, as we reported here, were twice vetoed by President Bush due to the increase in government funding and failed to garner enough House support to override the veto.

The Act will now head to the U.S. Senate for consideration, and, if passed, is expected to be one of the first pieces of legislation considered by President-elect Obama. We will continue to follow the Act and provide further updates on InsureReinsure.com.

For the complete text of the Act, click here.