WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent voted for H.R. 2, a bill to extend and improve the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which was created on the federal level in 1997 and modeled after Pennsylvania’s successful Children’s Health Insurance Program. The legislation would invest an additional $35 billion over the next five years in order to provide a total of 11 million low-income children, including four million kids who are currently eligible but not enrolled, with access to affordable health insurance coverage.

The State Children's Health Insurance Program provides health insurance to 184,000 uninsured children across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and roughly 10,000 kids in the 15th Congressional District. Through the program, parents who meet certain income eligibility requirements are able to purchase affordable and comprehensive health insurance for their kids. SCHIP ensures that all children in Pennsylvania have access to important care such as routine check-ups, immunizations and prescription drugs. As all parents know, it is vital for our nation’s future that we remain committed to the health and welfare of our children.

Nationwide, nearly 9.4 million children under the age of 19 are uninsured. Although the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance estimates that more than 95 percent of children in the Commonwealth are insured, there are still 138,560 that do not have health insurance coverage.

“As the fourth state to establish a CHIP initiative in 1992, Pennsylvania has always been on the front lines in helping working families secure health coverage for their children,” Congressman Dent said. “Pennsylvania’s program has been extremely successful and I have been proud to support it both on the state and federal level. The bill we considered today will allow Pennsylvania to continue striving to ensure that every child has health insurance. Particularly at a time when many people have lost their jobs and their healthcare coverage, this legislation is critical to making sure that all children have access to quality health care.”

Throughout the 110th Congress, the House and Senate worked to develop a comprehensive reauthorization of SCHIP that would improve the program by reaching more of the core-targeted population of low-income children. Despite strong bipartisan support, the efforts to enact a long-term reauthorization were unsuccessful.

H.R. 2, the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, which passed the House with my support by a vote of 289 to 139, moves the reauthorization process forward. The Senate is expected to consider their version of the SCHIP Reauthorization as early as next week and President-Elect Obama has expressed his desire to sign an SCHIP Reauthorization bill into law shortly after he takes office next week.