Advocate: Reply from Congressman Duncan Hunter

Tuesday, February 10, 2009
I am so grateful for the response from Congressman Hunter. I'm particularly pleased that he seemed to provide some sort of answer. This is the sort of thing that will encourage me to continue writing him regarding issues affecting those with cystic fibrosis.

Now, I hesitate to discuss the contents of the message. I'm not trying to be a political blogger. It would seem that Mr. Hunter, just as myself, has direction and a philosophy regarding the things that he votes on. Since I had an agenda, I can hardly blame him for having one!

Well, without further ado, here is his reply to my letter on SHCIP.

January 24, 2009
Mr. S. Daniel Smith
3202 Sederstrom Way
San Diego, CA 92123-2004

Dear Daniel:

Thank you for contacting me with your support for reauthorizing the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). I welcome the opportunity to respond to you on this matter.

As you know, the House recently considered H.R. 2 (Pallone-NJ), the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009. This legislation reauthorizes SCHIP, which is set to expire in March 2009, for an additional seven years and expands the program to serve as many as 11 million new enrollees.

SCHIP was created under the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 to provide health care coverage to low-income children. While I share your strong support for ensuring our children receive the care they need, particularly those whose families do not possess the financial resources to obtain private insurance, I remain concerned that this legislation would undermine the original intent of SCHIP and decrease the quality of care for program participants.

Instead of making low-income families a priority, H.R. 2 expands SCHIP to include millions of new enrollees who already have private health insurance, including some adults, and extends benefits to the children of illegal immigrants. The legislation also finances this expansion through a 61 cent tax increase on tobacco products. According to experts, funding an expansion of SCHIP through a tax increase on tobacco sales would require as many as 22.4 million new smokers by 2017. With the number of smokers already declining, this funding source is unreliable and incapable of sustaining the program in the years ahead.

For these reasons, I opposed H.R. 2 when it passed the House on January 14, 2009, by a vote of 289-139. The Senate is expected to consider its own version of this legislation in the near future. Rest assured that as we continue discussing this matter, I will keep your specific thoughts close in mind.

Again, thank you for contacting me. If you should have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to let me know.


Duncan Hunter
Member of Congress