Debate Expected on Funding for Children’s Health Program
Congressional lawmakers this year are expected to debate whether additional funds are available to sustain the State Children's Health Insurance Program, the Los Angeles Times reports. Healthy Families is California's SCHIP program.
The debate over future funding of SCHIP will begin next month after President Bush unveils his budget. Democratic lawmakers said they want to vote on a bill before summer, according to the Times.
The program, which has six million beneficiaries nationwide, is financed with a $5 billion annual allocation, but the Times reports that that amount is inadequate given rising health care costs.
Government estimates indicate that maintaining the current funding level could result in at least 1.5 million children losing coverage by 2012. An additional $13 billion to $15 billion over five years is necessary to address the funding gap.
Bush is likely to propose funding to close the gap, but he might propose reducing funding for other health care programs to offset the spending increase for SCHIP. Democrats likely would oppose such a proposal, the Times reports.
Of the nation's nine million uninsured children, 2.2 million are eligible for SCHIP and about four million are eligible for Medicaid (Alonso-Zaldivar, Los Angeles Times, 1/15).