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Bipartisan Bill Expands Health Care Access for Small Businesses

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a victory for the families of small business owners and their employees, today the Senate passed bipartisan legislation that will improve accessibility of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) program. Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) attached an amendment to the legislation that will create a governmental task force to enroll more children in the program. The provision requires the Small Business Administration (SBA) to team with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Secretary of Labor to educate small business owners, employees and the self- employed about the eligibility and enrollment requirements for SCHIP.

"President Bush's threat to veto kids' health care means that as many as 4.4 million children, including the sons and daughters of small business owners and the self-employed, will be denied access to health coverage," said Senator Kerry, Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. "Democrats and Republicans came together to put the health and safety of American children ahead of politics and ideology. President Bush should drop his ill-conceived veto threat and do right by our nation's children by giving them health care."

"The amendment I cosponsored with Senator Kerry would create a multi- agency campaign, including the Small Business Administration, to help enroll children in the SCHIP program who are currently eligible for the program, but not currently enrolled," said Senator Snowe. "Many of these children come from families who work for a small business or are self employed. It is imperative that the SBA and its resource partners actively work to reduce the number of uninsured children in this country."

The Kerry-Snowe amendment, modeled after the Small Business Children's Health Education Act (S. 1714), would:

-- Establish an Intergovernmental Task Force to conduct a nationwide

campaign of education and outreach for small businesses regarding the

availability of coverage through SCHIP and/or other private insurance


-- Encourage the use of SBA's business partners, including Small Business

Development Centers, Certified Development Companies,

WomenBusinessCenters, and SCORE, as well as private and non-profit

groups to increase SCHIP enrollment;

-- Create a hotline for small businesses to call with questions about

SCHIP eligibility and enrollment; and

-- Require SBA to provide prominent online access to information on

eligibility and enrollment requirements.

SOURCE U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business andEntrepreneurship
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