WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a sweeping overhaul of our nation’s health care system. The First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization, praised the House for passing historic legislation that moves America closer to universal coverage for children. Specifically, the package preserves and extends the successful Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through September 30, 2019 with full funding extended through fiscal year 2015. In addition, the legislation ensures that, starting immediately, no child can be denied health care coverage based on a pre-existing condition.

First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley released the following statement:

“President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Senate Leader Reid should be praised for their efforts to ensure national health reform made children a top priority. This new health reform bill is better for children than those passed in the House of Representatives or the Senate individually. Importantly, it adopts the Senate language that protects and expands the Children’s Health Insurance Program for millions of children through 2015. The compromise bill also moves toward better positions for children in the House bill, by ensuring no child can be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Further, the compromise favors the House’s focus on making the new ‘health insurance exchanges’ affordable for low-income families. And finally, it exceeds both chambers’ bills by providing additional federal fiscal support to state Medicaid and CHIP programs, ensuring that access to coverage is improved for all low-income children.

“When President Obama began the fight to reform our nation’s health care system, he promised that we would ‘fix what’s broken and build on what works.’ We are pleased to see Congress and the President adhere to this principle, by passing reform legislation that ensures every American child will have access to affordable, quality health coverage. And throughout this process, Senators Robert Casey, Jay Rockefeller, Jeff Bingaman, Robert Menendez, Tom Harkin, Chris Dodd, Debbie Stabenow and Reps. Linda Sanchez, Rosa DeLauro, Bobby Scott, Bobby Rush, and Lois Capps have been champions for children, ensuring our young people are not adversely affected by health reform. We thank them and Congressional leadership for their commitment to the health and wellbeing of our nation’s future leaders.”

The organization also lauded the inclusion of simplified enrollment measures that cut the red tape families currently deal with when enrolling their children in CHIP and/or Medicaid. Further, the proposal allows children to stay on their parents’ health plan through age 26.

This legislation follows a First Focus public opinion survey finding that providing health coverage for all children is at the top of the public’s priorities for health care reform.

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