Press Release
From the Office of State Senator Kel Seliger, District 31

For Immediate Release
February 22, 2005
Contact: Christy Bertolino
(806) 374-8994

Seliger Supports Bill to Restore Funding to the Children's Health Insurance Program

AUSTIN, Texas--State Senator Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) agreed today to co-author Senate Bill 59 (SB 59). Filed by State Senator Kip Averitt (R-McGregor), SB 59 will reverse legislative changes made to the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). "We want to prevent children from falling into the gap between Medicaid and private health care. A fully-restored CHIP program fills that gap," Seliger said.

Due to a $10 billion budget deficit, the 78th Legislature was forced to make reductions in CHIP in an effort to reduce statewide government spending. SB 59 will restore CHIP to its intended capacity and ensure that working families are able to obtain health insurance for their children.

By fully restoring cuts to CHIP, the state will also be able to maximize matching funds allotted for CHIP from the federal government, a large portion of which were left on the table at the end of last session. For each dollar the state invests in CHIP, the federal government provides a matching $2.59. Those federal dollars will, in turn, reduce the burden on local taxpayers who are currently paying to provide health care to those uninsured children in their local hospital emergency rooms.

Senator Averitt was a House sponsor of Senate Bill 445, which created CHIP in 1999, and, as a member of the Senate Finance Committee, he has worked to maximize the legislative appropriations dedicated to CHIP. "Restoring CHIP is a fiscally sound policy that helps working Texas families, and I am pleased that Senator Seliger and I will be working together to pass this important legislation," Senator Averitt said.

"This legislation constitutes a renewed effort by Texas to allow our working families access to affordable children's health care," said Seliger.

Seliger was sworn in to the Texas Senate to serve the citizens of Senate District 31 on March 2, 2004 to complete the term of former Senator Teel Bivins of Amarillo. He was reelected to serve a full, four-year term on November 2, 2004. The district spans 26 counties from the Panhandle to the Permian Basin and includes Amarillo, Midland, Odessa and Big Spring.