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Julie Pippert writes of the battle to protect CHIP in Texas. You can act now to voice your support of CHIP in Texas. And, as more states face budget shortfalls, protecting CHIP/SCHIP in your state will be an issue to keep watching- in California, Gov. Schwarzenegger "may eliminate the State Children's Health Insurance Program, called Healthy Families, to meet a $21.5 billion budget shortfall, state officials said. The program provides health insurance coverage for almost 1 million children and teens in the state who aren't eligible for Medicaid." More from TX:

The Children’s Health Insurance Program is designed to ensure that uninsured and lower-income children receive the health care they need. Advocates are excellent at invoking the true face of children who need, receive, and benefit from CHIP and SCHIP. Who doesn’t want to help children, especially sick children?

Governor Rick Perry and the Texas state representatives, that’s who.

Alleging that this, “is not what I consider to be a piece of legislation that has the vast support of the people of the state of Texas,” Perry was clear that he did not support the bi-partisan twice-passed Senate plan to get up to 80,000 more children into the government-subsidized Children's Health Insurance Program.

He is likely to veto the measure, if it manages to make it to his desk. Unfortunately, even that is in question after the antics this week in the Texas Legislature when House Democrats halted action to kill the controversial voter ID bill. As a result, unfortunately, the CHIP bill, among others, was endangered. With the session close on the horizon, the Texas Senate worked late to pass the Senate version of the CHIP expansion bill by a vote of 29-2. They attached the bill to a newborn screening bill and returned it to the House.

The House simply needed to pass the bill. This seemed possible, since earlier they had approved Rep Garnet Coleman’s version of the bill 87-55.

However, on Thursday evening, Speaker Joe Strauss ruled that the Senate’s CHIP amendment was not germane to the bill it was attached to, and that, as they say, was that.

We can question and speculate for days about why the Senate attached the bill to the newborn screening bill instead of to Coleman’s CHIP bill, whether Strauss was right, or even if this is moot since Perry would veto the bill on its own or as an amendment.

I think it’s more important, though, to talk about the bottom line and why it’s essential that all Texans contact their elected representatives, as well as the Governor and Speaker, to express support for CHIP. That means talking about the myths versus facts of CHIP.

Unfortunately, 80,000 uninsured children in Texas who could have benefited from the CHIP bill and amendment are instead once again at risk.

Anne Dunkelberg of the Center for Public Policy Priorities said, “Right now, affordable health insurance for 80,000 uninsured children is in jeopardy because state leaders think it's not a priority--for you. We were all tremendously disappointed – though not surprised – when the House returned the bill onto which the Senate had amended the CHIP bill to the Senate for technical reasons.  There are very few options left to pass the CHIP bill again – even though the bipartisan bill already passed both chambers with solid majorities.  This bill has been held up by politics, not its merits!"

The Center for Public Policy Priorities, the CHIP Coalition, and the Children’s Defense Fund have asked concerned citizens to contact Governor Perry and Speaker Strauss to express their support of CHIP.

To reach Speaker Strauss, call 1.888.327.2086. To reach Governor Perry, call 1.888.746.9714. To find your local legislator, check this Web site.


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