Obama Reverses Bush Order on Eligibility for Kids Health Insurance
In a memorandum issued Thursday, President Obama lifted two Bush administration policy directives that limited states' flexibility in expanding their versions of the State Children's Health Insurance Program to cover children in higher-income families, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports (Freking, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/6).
Bush Administration Order
The Bush administration in an Aug., 17, 2007, letter said that states seeking to expand CHIP to children in families with incomes greater than 250% of the federal poverty level first must verify that 95% of eligible children in families below 200% of the poverty level are enrolled in the program (Johnson/Pulizzi, Dow Jones, 2/5).
HHS also required states to verify that children in families with incomes above 250% of the poverty level have been uninsured for one year before qualifying for SCHIP (Young, The Hill, 2/5).
When the policy change was scheduled to take effect in August 2008, the Bush administration opted not to take action and allowed the eight states that would have been affected by the directives to operate their SCHIP programs normally. However, the letters never were officially rescinded (Armstrong, CQ Today, 2/5).
According to the memo, states must confirm that the number of eligible children enrolled in private insurance does not decrease by more than 2% as a result of expanded government insurance (Dow Jones, 2/5).
In the memo, Obama wrote, "These requirements have limited coverage under several state plans that otherwise would have covered additional uninsured children" (CongressDaily, 2/5). He added, "As a result, tens of thousands of children have been denied health care coverage" (The Hill, 2/5).According to the memo, the Obama directive does not create any new benefit but it lets reauthorization and expansion of the program -- signed into law Wednesday -- proceed without interference (CQ Today, 2/5). 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.