May 11, 2018 Benjamin Jimenez 0

Our Mission

The Mission of America’s Agenda: Health Care for Kids is to assure that every child in America gets the high-quality health care he or she needs, regardless of family income or medical condition.

Our Commitment

Reauthorization and expansion of the State Health Insurance Program,  or “SCHIP”, is a significant step toward achieving our mission — assuring that every American child has the high-quality health care he or she needs.  For this reason, America’s Agenda: Health Care for Kids is committed to providing facts, analyses, and other resources to inform the public about what is at stake for America’s children in the struggle to reauthorize SCHIP legislation.

As an American with concern about the health of our country’s children, we are pleased to provide you, from this website, the ability to contact your elected representatives in Congress to encourage them to stand strong for the health of America’s children.


May 10, 2018 Benjamin Jimenez 0

The following links provide access to useful information, analyses, and articles about the State Children’s Health Insurance Program:

Kaiser Family Foundation  – A wealth of information, analyses, and surveys regarding children’s health insurance coverage under Medicaid and SCHIP.

Kaiser EDU.org  – Features tutorials and related educational materials concerning Medicaid and SCHIP.

The Urban Institute  – Scores or authored articles about the SCHIP on this site feature several studies of local and state implementation.

The Urban Institute Policy Center  – Provides an overview of SCHIP and research undertaken by the Urban Institute

The New England Journal of Medicine  – Incisive articles on the politics of SCHIP and the reauthorization battle

Stateline.org  – For articles examining SCHIP from the states’ perspective, search “SCHIP”

What is SCHIP

May 9, 2018 Benjamin Jimenez 0

The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) is one of the most important children’s initiatives of the last half-century.

SCHIP was created by Congress in 1997 as a bipartisan effort to provide insurance coverage for children in families with too much income to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford to buy a policy in the private insurance market.

Over the last decade, SCHIP has given millions of children nationwide the chance to start out healthy in life.  SCHIP is a state-based program that is jointly financed by the federal and state governments.  Unlike Medicaid, SCHIP is a block grant program with funding that has caps both nationally and state by state.

To encourage states to participate, the federal government assumes a larger share of SCHIP financing by paying higher matching payments relative to Medicaid.  Distribution of SCHIP funds across states is based on each state’s share of low-income children.

The statute creating SCHIP gives states considerable flexibility in designing their child health programs, a factor that helped make it attractive to state policymakers. 

There is strong evidence that health insurance for children improves their access to care.  At the time of the SCHIP’s inception, nearly a quarter of all low-income children were uninsured.  Since that time, the program has extended coverage to millions.

Research has shown that uninsured children are more likely to experience avoidable hospital stays.  Children without a primary care physician that SCHIP provides are nine times more likely to be hospitalized for a preventable problem.

A recent analysis by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that SCHIP has reduced the number of uninsured children in America by 24%.  There is overwhelming consensus by American health care leaders that SCHIP has been one of America’s rare recent success stories on the health care front, countering the general trend of a steady increase in the ranks of America’s uninsured.

Even so, 9 million American children remain uninsured today.  The SCHIP reauthorization bill passed by Congress last year would have reduced the number of uninsured kids to 6 million, but it was vetoed by President George Bush.


May 8, 2018 Benjamin Jimenez 0

SCHIP legislation traces its roots to a children’s health insurance plan in Massachusetts that passed in 1996. Sen. Ted Kennedy met with local officials to discuss the feasibility of a national initiative.  In October 1996 he introduced a bill to provide health care coverage for children of the working poor, to be financed by a cigarette tax increase.

(First Lady Hillary Clinton knew that focus on children would be politically popular and a “Kids First” program had been envisioned as a backup plan during the original 1993 health reform effort.  In his 1997 State of the Union address, President Bill Clinton proposed a new kids’ health initiative, with the stated goal of covering up to five million children.)

In March 1997, Kennedy brought Republican Sen. Orin Hatch onto the legislation as a co-sponsor. The bill had to comply with the existing balanced budget agreement between Congress and the White House. It failed to do that and on May 22 the children’s health insurance provision was defeated.

Kennedy did not give up on the measure.  Both Bill and Hillary Clinton argued for including children’s health insurance in subsequent legislation.  A month after its initial defeat, the bill was revived by Kennedy and Hatch.  Organizations from the Children’s Defense Fund to the Girl Scouts lobbied for passage, putting public pressure on Congress.

SCHIP was passed and signed into law by Bill Clinton on August 5, 1997.  Following the signing, Kennedy thanked Hatch, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, and the Clintons.

“Mrs. Clinton was of invaluable help, both in the fashioning and the shaping of the program and also as a clear advocate,” said Kennedy.

Over the next decade, SCHIP grew into an immensely popular program in states across the country.  6.6 million children were covered by state SCHIP programs over 2007, although 9 million more children remained uninsured.

The 2007 Reauthorization Battle

SCHIP had become so successful over its first decade that, when the program came up for reauthorization, a bi-partisan coalition in Congress sought to expand it. Four senior senators are chief sponsors of the bill—Democrats Max Baucus of Montana and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, and Republicans Charles Grassley of Iowa and Orrin Hatch of Utah.  Their legislation would have authorized new expenditures of $35 billion over the next five years for a total of $60 billion, enabling states to cover more than three million additional children.

To their consternation, President Bush vetoed it.

Grassley and Hatch implored Bush to change his mind.  In a joint news release, they said it was “disappointing, even a little unbelievable, to hear talk about administration officials wanting a veto of a legislative proposal” that has broad bipartisan support.

SCHIP in 2008

Back in January, 42 House Republicans voted with Democrats to override President Bush’s SCHIP veto – a total still shy of the required two-thirds.

The new political terrain on Capitol Hill became crystal clear in June when the White House threatened to veto the Medicare physician payment legislation.  A stunning 129 House Republicans voted against their President. In the Senate, Ted Kennedy—undergoing treatment for cancer—came to Capitol Hill from his hospital room to lead the fight to get the Medicare bill the votes it needed for passage.

It is obvious from the Medicare vote that there is bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for an expansion of SCHIP so that it can help more children.  But will support be high enough to override another veto by President Bush?   Those who voted to reauthorize SCHIP the last time need to be encouraged to stand firm. The wavering “no” votes need to hear from their constituents that it’s time for every member of Congress to stand up for the health of America’s children.