Children’s Insurance Funds Could Be Added to Iraq Appropriation
Senate Democratic leaders on Wednesday said that if a consensus cannot be reached with Republicans on a stop-gap spending measure for SCHIP, a spending provision for the program will be attached to an Iraq supplemental bill set to be discussed in late March or early April, CongressDaily reports.
An aide for the Senate leadership said this maneuver would be a "last resort" to secure funding.
Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said that reauthorization of SCHIP is a top priority for his committee, and he promised that Congress would authorize interim grants for the remainder of this year for 14 states that are expected to face SCHIP funding shortfalls totaling $745 million.
Some states, including New Jersey, are expected to run out of funding in the next several weeks.
The Senate Finance Committee in May is scheduled to mark up a bill to reauthorize the program, and Baucus expects to have some bipartisan support for the measure. According to CongressDaily, analysts say it would cost $60 billion to cover all those eligible for the program over five years, and the Congressional Research Service estimates that it would cost at least $12 billion in new funding to continue coverage for current beneficiaries.
The Bush administration has asked for a $5 billion increase in funding in its fiscal year 2008 budget proposal, which many lawmakers say would be insufficient.
New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) said Bush's recommended funding levels show his "misplaced priorities." Corzine added, "This administration has not done its part, and states have been struggling with the consequences" (Johnson/Cohn, CongressDaily, 2/15).
The AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch on Thursday examined how in recent years some states have expanded SCHIP coverage to include some adults, which now is exacerbating budget shortfalls. The financial crunch has led Bush and other Republican lawmakers to say that it is "time to refocus the program as it was originally intended -- on children," while Democrats say that "the solution to the uninsured problem is not removing health care from those who now have it," the AP/Times-Dispatch reports. Of the six million people enrolled in the program, 640,000 are adults (AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/15).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.