GOP Senators Blast Adult Access to Kids’ Insurance
A group of Republican senators on Wednesday sent a letter to President Bush requesting that HHS stop granting waivers to states that allow adults to receive coverage under the State Children's Health Insurance Program, CongressDaily reports (CongressDaily, 7/12).
Sens. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Pat Roberts (Kan.) and Orrin Hatch (Utah), all members of the Senate Finance Committee, in the letter wrote, "We believe it is time to do all we can to return SCHIP to its original focus on covering low-income children. Therefore, we respectfully request that you take steps to ensure that [HHS] refrains from granting or extending waivers for adult coverage under SCHIP."
The senators in a release accompanying the letter added that the administration's approval and renewal of waivers "has made it more expensive and more complicated to reauthorize SCHIP."
Grassley said, "The waivers made program costs mushroom and led to funding shortfalls. Congress had to stopgap those shortfalls, and now Congress has to address the additional costs that come with all the adults that the administration approved for coverage" (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 7/11).
The Senate Finance Committee is considering legislation that would increase SCHIP funding by $35 billion to cover an additional two million children (CongressDaily, 7/12).
The bill would shift childless adults receiving SCHIP benefits to Medicaid to allow more children to enroll in the program (California Healthline, 7/11).
The White House previously has indicated that it opposes an SCHIP funding increase and likely would veto the legislation on the grounds that it expands government-run health care (CongressDaily, 7/12).
- Boston Globe: Bush's reasons for opposing an expansion of SCHIP "are more about ideology than fiscal discipline," a Globe editorial states. Bush on Tuesday "complained that expanding SCHIP could go beyond the original intent of helping poor children and would be 'a way to encourage people to transfer from the private sector to government health care plans,'" adding that he would "resist Congress' attempt to federalize medicine.'" According to the Globe, "These comments rely on scare tactics and diversion." The Globe states, "Expanding SCHIP is only an effort to fix a festering problem," in which some children fail to get needed medical care, while parents "can face huge bills" and "weeks and months of fighting to get badly needed care for their ill children." The editorial concludes, "Rather than engaging in false arguments about federalization, Congress and the president should focus on helping children" (Boston Globe, 7/12).
Las Vegas Sun: A tentative bipartisan agreement to increase the federal tobacco tax to fund an expansion of SCHIP "could prove to be unstable" because tobacco product sales "are declining every year, which is good, but not promising for programs dependent of their tax revenue," a Sun editorial states. The editorial concludes, "[W]e believe that if hundreds of billions for President Bush's widely criticized war in Iraq can be found with little trouble, tens of billions for expanding a worthy domestic program can be found without incurring so much risk" (Las Vegas Sun, 7/11).