Coalition to Sen. Bauchus: Future of the SCHIP Program

July 6, 2007

The Honorable Max Baucus

United States Senate
511 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-2602

Dear Senator Baucus:

As faith leaders we want to recognize your leadership in making covering America’s uninsured children a top national priority this year. We thank you for consistently acknowledging the moral imperative that we have as a nation to protect the health of our children.

We speak from a broad range of religious traditions representing many millions of families in urging you to craft SCHIP legislation that will help our nation see a day when no child goes without treatment or relies on an emergency room for his or her primary health care.

As you move forward from broad principles to specific legislative language we ask that you fulfill the commitment Congress made to include $50 billion over five years in additional funding for children’s health. The faith community worked extraordinarily hard to see that the Senate and House included $50 billion in new funding in the Budget Resolution. We want to see these funds used to support a strong SCHIP reauthorization.

As you know, most of the nine million uninsured children in the United States are eligible for SCHIP and Medicaid. SCHIP reauthorization needs to include new tools, such as Express Lane Eligibility to cut the red tape for children who also qualify for school lunches, WIC and other programs, along with strong new incentives that encourage and support state efforts to reach and retain eligible children. To assure that eligible children get the coverage they need, states should be given greater flexibility in how they document citizenship.

The majority of States are moving forward under the leadership of Republicans and Democrats alike to cover more children and many are expanding eligibility. A hallmark of SCHIP’s success has been the flexibility given to states to meet the particular needs of their children and families. SCHIP reauthorization should provide states with the ability to expand income-eligibility and the option to cover pregnant women and legally documented immigrant children. States that see covering parents as a way of covering more children should not be undermined.

The religious community is engaged in an unprecedented grassroots campaign to rally people of faith to seize the opportunity this year to cover millions of uninsured children. Through hundreds of local events, tens of thousands of contacts with Members of Congress and scores of op-ed pieces and letters-to-the editor, people of faith are making their voices heard on the need for a strong SCHIP Reauthorization. We stand ready to support faithful action on behalf of our children.

With your continued leadership we see a day when all children in our nation receive the health care they need to grow into healthy and productive members of society. For more information please contact Gordon Whitman, Policy Director, PICO National Network (


Father John Baumann, S.J., Executive Director
PICO National Network

Reverend Dr. Bob Edgar, General Secretary
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA

Reverend Michael Livingston, Executive Director
International Council of Community Churches

Reverend John H. Thomas, General Minister and President
United Church of Christ

Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop & Primate
The Episcopal Church

Reverend Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

The Reverend Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

James Winkler, General Secretary
General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church

Reverend A. Roy Medley, General Secretary
American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.

Reverend Dr. William J. Shaw, National President
National Baptist Convention, U.S.A.

Archbishop Vicken Aykazian
Diocese of the Armenian Church of America

Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Counsel
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Bishop John Richard Bryant, Presiding Bishop, 5th Episcopal District
African Methodist Episcopal Church

Reverend Jim Wallis, Chief Executive Officer
Sojourners/Call to Renewal

Kevin E. Lofton, FACHE, President and CEO
Catholic Health Initiatives

Father O.C. Edwards, Jr. (Episcopal Church), Executive Committee and Co-Chair
Faith and Order Commission, National Council of Churches USA

M. Garlinda Burton, General Secretary
General Commission on the Status & Role of Women, United Methodist Church

Virginia R. Holmstrom, Executive Director
American Baptist Women's Ministries

Phyllis Snyder, President
National Council of Jewish Women

Sister Gayle Lwanga Crumbley, RGS, National Coordinator
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

cc: Majority Leader Harry Reid