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House of Representative Committees Finish Health Care Legislation

August 4, 2009

On Friday July 31st, the remaining Committee tasked with marking-up “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act” (H.R. 3200), finished amending the bill and voted on it.  The vote passed out of the Energy and Commerce Committee on the last day before the House members left for the August Recess.  The next step is for the three versions to be reconciled and formed into one comprehensive bill.  In September, the bill will go to the House floor where any Representatives may bring forth additional amendments.  After that process the House will vote on the bill.

There are several positive measures for children’s health in E&C amendments for those enrolling in Medicaid and CHIP including:

  • provisions for continuous coverage for young children if their parents lose employer-sponsored insurance,
  • provisions for optometry services,
  • Congresswoman DeGette’s (D-CO) amendment that ensures children will be provided with the same benefits and coverage under an average CHIP program if moved from CHIP into an industry exchange, and
  • a previously voted on amendment from the Congresswoman adds a focus on pediatric preventive services to a list of health quality improvement priorities.

E&C amendments that would have provided other strong measures for children’s health- the Rush Amendments (D-IL)– were withdrawn, but not without a serious discussion with the Chairman about the importance of protecting children’s health benefits.  A provision from the Education and Labor Committee covers similar EPSDT requirements, but for an essential benefits package.  The Rush amendments would have added significant costs not acceptable to the fiscal conservative Blue Dog members in the committee.  The amendments will hopefully reappear on the House floor.

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