Funding Jump for Kids’ Insurance Program Put Forward
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday introduced a bill that would increase federal funds for SCHIP by at least $50 billion over five years and provide access to some form of health insurance for almost all uninsured children, the New York Times reports.
The federal government currently spends $5 billion annually on SCHIP, which would expire on Sept. 30 without reauthorization.
Under the bill, the federal government would provide states financial incentives to expand SCHIP to children in families with annual incomes of as much as 400% of the federal poverty level. States would have the ability to allow employers and parents to purchase health insurance through SCHIP.
The legislation would encourage employers to maintain health insurance for the children of employees.
Dingell and Clinton said that they would seek to offset the cost of the bill (Pear, New York Times, 3/14).
Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Senate Finance Health Subcommittee Chair Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) on Tuesday called for an increase in federal funds for SCHIP of $50 billion to $60 billion over five years, CQ HealthBeat reports.
Baucus and Rockefeller said that the increased funds would maintain coverage for children currently enrolled in SCHIP, as well as "reaching out to the existing six million eligible children who are not enrolled" (CQ HealthBeat, 3/14).
Rockefeller as early as this week plans to introduce a bill designed to cover at least half of children who qualify for, but are not enrolled in, SCHIP within five years and cover all such children within 10 years. In addition, the legislation would "retool" the process used to calculate allocations of federal funds for SCHIP to states, according to Rockefeller aides.
The legislation would base allocations on the national health care expenditure rate, rather than the number of uninsured children in each state. The bill would establish incentives for states to increase SCHIP enrollment efforts (Johnson, CongressDaily, 3/14).
The Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday released a memo that increased a previous estimate of the cost for coverage of one million additional children under SCHIP. CBO cited the cost at $6.7 billion over five years, compared with a previous estimate of $4 billion.
CBO said that the revised estimate accounts for the "point-in-time" factors in current estimates about the uninsured population.
The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities analyzed the revised CBO estimate and estimated the cost for coverage of all eligible but unenrolled children at $47.5 billion over five years (CongressDaily, 3/14).
A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday held a rally in Washington, D.C., in opposition to provisions on SCHIP that President Bush included in his fiscal year 2008 budget proposal. The budget proposal would increase federal funds for SCHIP by $5 billion over five years.
However, the Children's Health Fund has estimated that federal funds for SCHIP would have to increase by at least $13 billion over five years to maintain current enrollment levels.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said, "The need for CHIP today is greater than ever. Now is the time for Congress to act and ensure that all of America's children are provided with the care they are entitled to receive."
Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said, "Does the administration want 1.4 million children -- at least -- between now and 2012 to lose their insurance coverage?" Casey added, "Justice cannot abide nine million children with no health insurance" (Goldstein, Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/14).
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) on Wednesday plan to speak at the launch of a $3 million advertising campaign sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that seeks to lobby Congress to increase federal funds for SCHIP. O'Malley on Tuesday said, "The ranks of the uninsured have been growing in our state, and will likely continue to grow."
O'Malley said that he will participate in the campaign "to highlight the issue and stand with my fellow governors in making this a bipartisan and broad-based national effort" (Nitkin, Baltimore Sun, 3/14).