Just got back from DC. On the first day, I visited a number of California Congressional offices, along with representatives of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network and Latino Issues Forum, on the issue of coverage for children.
We got a relatively warm reception at many of the offices, including Democrats and Republicans. But it’s going to be a big battle. The State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)–the Healthy Families in California that covers around 800,000 children–is up for reauthorization. The real issue is what level they will fund the renewal at, beyond current levels: enough to keep these children covered? enough to continue enrolling new children? enough to cover all the children in the state? enough to cover their parents as well?
All the health care reform proposals by the Governor and legislative leaders rely on the expansion of Healthy Families to cover all children, but also rely on SCHIP providing a 2-to-1 match. This federal fight is crucial not just in the effort to cover all children, but for health reform in general. We made this point, and many others, to a receptive audience on Capitol Hill.
It was interesting that President Bush’s speech, which made a focus on health care, didn’t even mention this. Children’s coverage will be the focus around health care in Congress, rather than his misguided proposals.
SIDE NOTE: MAYORS! At one of our visits, we walked passed Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo, doing her own lobbying. Back at the Mayflower Hotel, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums held court in the lobby area, with his crown of white hair providing him a regal aura. If there were others in town for the Conference of Mayors, I don’t think I ran into them.