Big Funding Increase for Kids’ Insurance Program Gains Support
Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) on Tuesday said that he will propose increasing SCHIP funding by $50 billion over five years, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports. In a speech at the National Press Club, Baucus said that the reauthorization of SCHIP -- which expires on Sept. 30 -- is his top priority for the committee.
Baucus' proposal would bring total SCHIP funding to about $75 billion over five years -- more than twice the amount proposed by President Bush. Bush has proposed adding $4.8 billion in SCHIP funding over five years to the program's current $5 billion annual budget.
Baucus said that his proposal includes enough funding to cover the six million children who are eligible for SCHIP but not enrolled, effectively doubling the size of the program (Jalonick, AP/Houston Chronicle, 3/6). Baucus did not offer specifics for securing additional funding, although he said that cuts to Medicare Advantage reimbursements are "certainly one of the items that is on the table."
Baucus said he is working with Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) to include SCHIP funding in the fiscal year 2008 budget resolution (Carey, CQ HealthBeat, 3/6). Baucus also said he wants to improve the quality of care provided to SCHIP beneficiaries and to reduce the number of beneficiaries who leave the program for various reasons and become uninsured (Hess, CongressDaily, 3/6).
In related news, House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) on Tuesday introduced a bill that would address SCHIP's projected FY 2007 shortfall of $750 million. Their proposal would limit funding to low-income children and pregnant women whose family incomes are less than 200% of the poverty level (AP/Houston Chronicle, 3/6).
Barton and Deal in a statement said, "Shortfall states will have to stop using their rules to hide people's income and pretend that they make less than they really do."
House Appropriations Committee Chair David Obey (D-Wis.) has said that the FY 2007 supplemental spending bill for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan will include at least $750 million for SCHIP (CQ HealthBeat, 3/6).
KPBS' "KPBS News" on Tuesday reported on how some community leaders in San Diego are lobbying federal lawmakers for increased SCHIP funding.
The segment includes comments from Jeremy Kaercher of the San Diego Organizing Program, a faith-based group (Goldberg, "KPBS News," KPBS, 3/6).
A transcript and audio of the segment are available online.