Proposal Offered for Renewal of Kids’ Insurance Program
Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) on Wednesday announced recommendations for legislation to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which will expire on Sept. 30, that include a provision to increase the federal tobacco tax to help finance the program, CongressDaily reports (Edney, CongressDaily, 6/7).
The senators recommend increased funds for outreach programs to enroll six million of the nine million children who qualify for, but are not enrolled in, SCHIP or Medicaid. In addition, they recommend a simplification of the SCHIP enrollment and renewal processes and the adoption of national standards to measure the quality of care that children receive under the program.
The senators recommend the issue of "incentive grants" to help reduce childhood obesity, the use of SCHIP funds to help cover the cost of health insurance premiums for children in lower-income families with access to employer-sponsored coverage and increased flexibility for states to determine income eligibility levels for their programs. The senators also recommend an examination of the current five-year exclusion of documented immigrant children from SCHIP and a provision to allow states to cover those children under their programs.
The senators in a statement said, "No state should be allowed to retain federal (SCHIP) dollars while doing little to actually cover eligible children. In addition, no state should be faced with closing enrollment or dropping children from the program because of a shortfall of available federal funds" (CQ HealthBeat, 6/6).
The Senate Finance Committee this week plans to meet to discuss legislation to reauthorize SCHIP, and health care analysts on Tuesday said that committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) likely will include in the bill a provision to increase the federal tobacco tax to help finance the program (CongressDaily, 6/7).