Children's Monitor Online
A Public Policy Update from the Child Welfare League of America

   
   
Vol. 19, Issue 43: 10/30/2006   
Headlines

Advance The 5-Point Congressional Platform!

SCHIP Shortfall and Reauthorization Strategies Considered

Update: Governors Ask Congress for Funding to Prevent SCHIP Shortfall in FY07

New Gang Legislation Harmful to Youth

CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



Advance The 5-Point Congressional Platform!

Join CWLA in this initiative to engage Members of Congress to make a difference in children's lives. Urge U.S. Senators and Representatives to support the 5-Point Platform and help Make Children a National Priority in 2006!

The five points in the platform will help protect children who are abused and neglected and help prevent abuse. Included in the platform are specific, concrete issues federal legislators can and should support to protect the nearly 900,000 children abused and neglected each year. The five points of the platform represent specific legislative actions every member of the House and Senate should support. Find out more.

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SCHIP Shortfall and Reauthorization Strategies Considered

CWLA was represented at a meeting of the Children's Health Group, a Washington, DC-based coalition of organizations concerned with children's health, on October 12. Discussions at this meeting focused on addressing the imminent funding shortfall of approximately $900 million expected next year in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), as well as broader strategies concerning the planned reauthorization of SCHIP in the 110th Congress.

Regarding the imminent FY07 shortfall in SCHIP funding, various estimates by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Congressional Research Service, and other independent analysts, predict that 17-18 states will face approximately $800 milllion to $950 million in total funding shortfalls in federal SCHIP funding in 2007, threatening their ability to sustain existing SCHIP programs. Last month, CWLA signed on to a joint letter spearheaded by the American Academy of Pediatrics that urged all Members of Congress to take immediate action to help states avert funding shortfalls under SCHIP projected for 2007. If Congress fails to provide additional funding to prevent these shortfalls, health coverage for more than 500,000 children could be at risk.

Before recessing for midterm elections, House and Senate lawmakers introduced various pieces of legislation to help states address the shortfall. Several of these proposals would provide states the money needed for SCHIP next year, including H.R. 6098, introduced by Representative John Dingell (D-MI); its Senate companion, S. 3913, introduced by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV); and H.R. 6077, introduced by Representatives Charles Norwood (R-GA) and Nathan Deal (R-GA).

Senate Finance Committee Chair Charles E. Grassley (R-IA) introduced S. 3972 September 29. Grassley's bill involves a two-pronged approach, as it would rely on a proposed redistribution of some funds from states with a 2007 surplus to those states expected to run out of money in 2007, as well as an additional one-time appropriation to fill the gap. Critics of this approach, including CWLA, believe that although such redistribution strategies help to prevent individual states from running out of money in the near-term, they mask and defer the fundamental shortfall issues facing SCHIP.

Participants in the Children's Health Group meeting discussed options for moving forward with the SCHIP reauthorization to be considered by the next Congress, beginning in January. Key among these options is advocacy for new federal funds for the program, as an estimated $12 billion in new federal funds will be needed over the next five years to allow states to sustain their existing SCHIP programs. Options for improving and expanding SCHIP coverage were also discussed.

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Update: Governors Ask Congress for Funding to Prevent SCHIP Shortfall in FY07

On October 24, the National Governors' Association sent a letter to the ranking members of the House and Senate Committees with jurisdiction over the SCHIP program--the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and the Senate Committee on Finance--urged members to address the funding shortfalls expected in FY07 in SCHIP before the 109th Congress adjourns, warning that, without action, a number of states will have insufficient funds to fully cover current SCHIP caseloads. The letter did not indicate endorsement of any particular bill, but urged lawmakers to "pass legislation this year that provides sufficient federal funding to ensure SCHIP beneficiaries do not lose coverage as a result of shortfalls."

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New Gang Legislation Harmful to Youth

Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) introduced the Community Protection Against International Gangs Act (S. 3946) on September 27. This bill would make an alien who is a member or suspected member of a criminal gang removable and inadmissible to the United States. This overly broad definition would give the Attorney General and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unprecedented discretion to determine who is a gang member, resulting in removing young people who have not committed or been convicted of any crime, who are merely suspected of being gang members, as well as youth who have successfully broken from gangs and become productive members of society.

Gang members who commit illegal acts are already subject to the criminal justice system for the act itself. Immigrant gang members who commit criminal acts are subject to inadmissibility and deportability grounds, and DHS can and does deny applications for permanent residence on discretionary grounds, such as involvement in gang activity. Also, S.3946 would punish former gang members who have chosen to leave gangs and reform their lives, refusing them admission and deporting them to countries where they may face interrogation, torture, detention, and even death.

This legislation is expected to be considered by Congress when it reconvenes after the election.

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CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

CWLA's Legislative Alerts provide breaking news, advocacy information, and critically important timely details of legislative battles. In an effort to broaden CWLA's advocacy network on behalf of children, anyone can now subscribe and receive the same information. This effort compliments CWLA's weekly electronic legislative newsletter, the Children's Monitor, which is also available free to any subscriber. We encourage you to register to receive these items directly and to pass on the information to other colleagues, family, and friends.

Subscribe to Legislative Alerts.

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Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

October 1: 2007 Federal Fiscal Year Began
November 7: Election Day
November 13: Congress Returns
November 17: Continuing Resolution Expires


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