Bush Administration, Congress Disagree Over SCHIP Fund Allocation
Democrat and Republican legislators, as well as the Bush administration, want to keep $1.1 billion in unspent state SCHIP program funds dedicated to the program, but they "disagree on how to distribute that money and what it should be used for," CongressDaily reports (Rovner, CongressDaily, 9/30). At midnight Thursday, $1.1 billion in unspent SCHIP funds reverted to the U.S. Treasury. In previous years, Congress voted to allow states to retain unspent SCHIP funds. The Bush administration plans to use unspent SCHIP funds to enroll more eligible children, with the help of states, schools, community groups and faith-based initiatives (California Healthline, 9/29).
CMS Administrator Mark McClellan said that "no state is going to be left with inadequate funds" for its SCHIP program. McClellan said that bipartisan bills pending in Congress that would allow states to roll over unspent SCHIP program funds from previous years would not provide adequate funding for fiscal year 2005 for Minnesota, New Jersey and Rhode Island. In addition, McClellan said that the Bush administration hopes to reauthorize the SCHIP program next year as part of an evaluation of Medicaid, rather than in 2007 when the SCHIP program expires, CongressDaily reports.
Democrats want to "spend more money on keeping the program going," a position that is shared by some governors and children's advocates, according to CongressDaily. Edwin Park of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said the administration's proposal would delay fiscal problems within the program until FY 2006. "It makes little sense to have more outreach when a number of states have insufficient funding for their existing caseload[s]," Park said (CongressDaily, 9/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.