Reauthorization of Children’s Insurance Program a Top Priority
Reauthorization of the SCHIP program is a top priority this year for the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, according to subcommittee chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), CongressDaily reports.
According to House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health Chair Pete Stark (D-Calif.), the subcommittee will seek to find at least $15 billion over five years to pay for the reauthorization.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over SCHIP, but the House Ways and Means Committee will have to find the additional funds. Congress last year passed a stopgap bill to provide funds for the SCHIP program through May, and House and Senate leaders have said that they hope to complete the reauthorization before the legislation expires.
Pallone said, "I think that as Democrats, we'd rather look at things and reauthorize programs long term than do stopgaps. That would be the goal. That's why we need to start the process early" (CongressDaily, 1/12).
In related news, children's hospitals and child advocacy groups nationwide on Thursday began an effort to expand health insurance for children, the AP/Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
In a satellite address to audiences in 36 cities, a group of four senators -- Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) -- said that reauthorization of the SCHIP program is a top priority this year.
Baucus said, "I think the passion (for children's health care) is still there."
Smith said that reauthorization of the SCHIP program has bipartisan support, adding that he asked President Bush to support additional funds for the program to account for increased costs from inflation.
Rockefeller said that Congress might not have the ability to increase funds for the SCHIP program because of tax cuts and the cost of the war on terrorism (Sheeran, AP/Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/12).