The President fought hard to ensure that the Budget Agreement includes $24 billion to provide meaningful health care coverage to as many as five million of our nation's ten million uninsured children. This investment includes a meaningful benefits package, ensures that states use this money to cover uninsured children and not replace existing public or private spending, and guarantees adequate cost-sharing protections for families.
INVESTS UNPRECEDENTED $24 BILLION FOR UNINSURED CHILDREN. The President insisted on increasing the investment for children's health from $16 billion to $24 billion by including revenue from a new tobacco tax. Because of the President's leadership, this budget will contain the largest children's health care budget increase since the enactment of Medicaid in 1965. Including these additional revenues in the children's health initiative will not only further reduce the number of uninsured children, but it will also serve as a financial barrier to help prevent our children from starting smoking in the first place.
ENSURES MEANINGFUL HEALTH CARE COVERAGE, WHILE ALLOWING STATES TO DESIGN THEIR OWN BENEFITS PACKAGES. The President fought hard to ensure that this investment guarantees the full range of benefits -- from checkups to surgery -- that children need to grow up strong and healthy. The President also worked to ensure that prescription drugs, vision, hearing, and mental health coverage now offered at the state level are extended to millions of uninsured children.
GIVES STATES THE FLEXIBILITY TO DESIGN BENEFITS THAT MEET THEIR NEEDS. States will be able to choose from any of four benefits packages: (1) the FEHPB model; (2) the benefits package of the most popular state HMO; (3) the state employee plan; and (4) the actuarial equivalent of any of the three stated benefit plans as long as prescription drugs, vision, hearing, and mental health services now offered in these plans are guaranteed to equal at least 75 percent of the value of these services.
SUPPLEMENTS, NOT SUPPLANTS, CURRENT HEALTH CARE COVERAGE. Includes provisions to ensure that states provide health care coverage to children who do not currently have health insurance. It requires that states maintain their current Medicaid eligibility levels of spending to access Federal dollars to ensure that this investment is not used to replace public or private money that already covers children.
ENSURES ADEQUATE COST-SHARING PROTECTIONS. The President fought to ensure that families are not forced to shoulder excessive costs for their children. The Agreement guarantees that families under 150 percent of poverty will be protected against overly burdensome cost sharing.