U.S. House Bill Could Expand Coverage to Uninsured Children

Tulsa, OK – A private advocacy group says more than 55,000 additional low-income children in Oklahoma could receive health insurance coverage under a newly passed House bill.

Families USA says if that many enrolled, it would cut the estimated 112,000 low-income children who are no uninsured in about half.

Families USA executive director Ron Pollack says the measure represents a confidence-building down payment towards meaningful health care reform.

The U.S. House voted 289 to 139 Wednesday to extend and expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The additional coverage for the 4.1 million children nationwide would be funded by a 61 cent increase in the current federal tobacco tax.

Rep. Dan Boren voted for the House bill, while Reps. Frank Lucas, Tom Cole and Mary Fallin voted against it. Rep. John Sullivan was absent.

Cole says he supports ensuring poor children, but he said families making $80,000 annually could qualify for the program.

Pollack says only New Jersey offers coverage for those making 350 percent of the poverty rate, adding that is well under $80,000.