Washington DC – Today, the U.S. Senate passed legislation to halt regulations imposed by the Bush administration that would be harmful to the health of millions of American children. The measure, approved by a veto-proof, stand-alone vote of 75-22, was enacted as part of a supplemental war spending package that will now be sent to the U.S. House of Representatives for final approval.

Specifically, the legislation would place a moratorium on seven Medicaid regulations imposed by the Bush administration that would make significant cuts to the program over the next five years. In addition, the Senate bill also halts the August 17th directive issued by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), which sets forth stringent criteria that would severely restrict children’s health coverage under the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

“We applaud the Senate for taking action on these critical issues,” said Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. “Overwhelming evidence has indicated that these regulations are bad for children, particularly those with special needs. Enacting this legislation will ensure that scores of American children, among other vulnerable populations, continue to get access to the medical services they need.”

First Focus has been an outspoken leader on these regulations, issuing reports, statements, and letters urging congress to repeal these harmful measures. In March, First Focus released a report on the impact of the regulatory actions on children with special health care needs, finding that they would have a disproportionate impact on this vulnerable population. Last week, First Focus spearheaded an effort that engaged 180 local, state and national organizations from around the nation to urge President Bush, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, and congressional leadership to repeal the August 17th directive, a key component in the measure passed by the Senate today.