AAFP Statement: American Academy of Family Physicians Lauds House Passage of SCHIP Reauthorization, Calls on Senate to Act Quickly

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Statement attributable to:
Ted Epperly, M.D.
American Academy of Family Physicians

Family physicians across the United States applaud the House action on HR 2, the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, known as CHIPRA.

This legislation meets several goals supported by the AAFP: stable access to health care for all children who are eligible for State Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage; a stable and predictable funding mechanism to ensure consistency on those children’s coverage, and a method of paying for SCHIP that encourages healthy behavior.

By providing $32.3 billion over 5 years and $65.4 billion over 10 years, this legislation ensures that currently enrolled children can continue to receive coverage under SCHIP and enrolls children who, although eligible, do not receive SCHIP coverage due to lack of adequate funding. As a result, 4 million additional low-income children will receive SCHIP services.

At the same time, this bill establishes a strong and predictable financial structure for states. By allotting funds according to each state’s demographic needs and national spending trends, this legislation lays a foundation that truly meets the various socioeconomic realities of each state. Moreover, the bill ensures continuity of care for children because it provides adjustment payments to states that are meeting enrollment goals but are facing a funding shortage.

Of equal importance are provisions that support private sector insurance by allowing state SCHIPs to offer premium assistance subsidies for qualified, cost-effective employer sponsored coverage offered through those children’s parents’ employers.

The AAFP calls on the U.S. Senate to move forward in passing CHIPRA’s companion bill, the CHIP Reauthorization Act.

Reauthorization, expansion and stabilization of SCHIP is a vital investment in the health of low-income children, whose working parents either have no access to or cannot afford health insurance. Only by investing in today’s children will we ensure a healthy future for them and the nation.

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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 129,000 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next most visited medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.

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www.aafp.org/media. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.familydoctor.org(www.familydoctor.org).