Washington, D.C. — Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders held a news conference in the Capitol this evening to announce plans to bring a new version of the State Children's Health Insurance Program to the House floor tomorrow:
“Good evening, thank you all for being here.
“Tomorrow, we will be taking up the SCHIP bill. The legislation will provide health care for 10 million of America's children. It's another historic opportunity for this Congress to declare itself 'the children's Congress.'
“It's supported by a bipartisan coalition, Democrats and Republicans across the country. Republican and Democratic governors support the SCHIP initiative. Every organization that you can name, from the AARP to the YWCA, and everything in between, AMA, the Catholic Hospital Association, Families First, are lobbying for the passage of this legislation.
“We hope this time the President will sign the bill. The bill addresses all the concerns that were expressed by our colleagues and by the President. It clarifies the language on the claim that was made that people making $83,000 a year could receive SCHIP; that was patently not true, and it is clarified in the legislation that it is not so.
“It addresses who is eligible for the legislation and clearly defines eligibility and that does not include illegal aliens. They are not entitled to benefits. In fact, you cannot get benefits in our country unless you have been here for five years and legally so. The bill makes that very clear.
“The third category of complaint was that more adults were receiving the benefits than should and the previous legislation phased out adults receiving benefits over two years. Those are adults that are members of families that are receiving SCHIP. Over one year this new bill will phase out those adults without children who are eligible to receive these benefits in some states, as they have received the opportunity to do so in the past.
“The focus is on the poor children. These are poor children. The poorest children receive their health care through Medicaid. Then just above that tier, the working poor families, the focus is there and we're very proud of the legislation.
“It honors the spirit of 10 million children, $35 billion all paid for, no new deficit spending, pay as you go. And again, this is a clarification of the legislation that we put forth to insure these children. We are responding to some of the concerns expressed by our colleagues and some clarification that we thought improved the bill.”