Funding SCHIP

Earlier I posted (see here) the text of my Emails to my Senators in the federal government where I voiced my opposition to funding expansion of SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program) through an outrageous increase in tobacco taxes.

Here is the text of the reply I received from Senator Jim Webb:
Dear Mr. Obermark:

Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns regarding the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP, H.R.976) and your views on the importance of providing health insurance coverage to Virginia's low-income and uninsured children.

I strongly believe that we need to strengthen access to quality health care in the United States. Medicaid and CHIP have made progress in improving children's health insurance. However, nine million children are still without health care. It is crucial for Congress to maintain strong financial support for CHIP for low-income children and expectant mothers, as well as other health safety-net programs.

Last year, 167,000 low-income children in Virginia received health insurance coverage through CHIP, and there are another 100,000 uninsured children eligible for coverage. The CHIP program in Virginia, called the Family Access to Medical Insurance Security plan, has been successful in educating and enrolling low-income children and families.

Although the bill's funding source, an increase in the tobacco tax, unfairly singles out tobacco use and the tobacco industry, the merits of CHIP outweigh those concerns. Thus, I voted in support of CHIP's reauthorization. On September 27, 2007, Congress passed this bill so that approximately 3.2 million additional low-income, uninsured children receive health coverage over the next five years. However, the President vetoed this bill on October 3, 2007. As Congress deliberates the next steps to take on the CHIP bill, your views are helpful to me and my staff.

My staff and I appreciate your correspondence on this important issue. I would also invite you to visit my website at http://www.webb.senate.gov/ for regular updates about my activities and positions on matters that are important to Virginia and our nation. Please do not hesitate to contact us in the future.


Jim Webb
United States Senator

Since my own concern was that the method being considered to fund the increase, that being 100% of the funding coming from an increase in the tobacco tax, would unfairly penalize his own state's economy by decreasing demand for tobacco products, I think I was just told that Mr Webb does not care about Virginia tobacco farmers or those citizens in Virginia employed in the tobacco industry. I am not a single issue voter and in many ways I have been happy with how my newest Senator has been representing me. However this is one area where he is going to receive a "less then satisfactory" mark from me. I feel my Senators should have a strong concern for the welfare of their own state's economy and I do not feel Senator Webb has a strong enough understanding of how important tobacco is to the economy of Virginia. I am one of the citizens who helped Senator Webb get his new job and who voted to run Senator George Allen out of office, and Senator Webb is letting me down on this issue. I am going to be receptive to anyone who runs against him that has a better understanding of the importance of tobacco to my state. Senator Webb might still win my continuing support, but with his stance on tobacco taxes it is going to make it easier for me to consider anyone who might run against him.


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