Senate GOP Revises Medicaid Change in Kids’ Health Bill
Senate Republicans have proposed new Medicaid language for legislation that would reauthorize and expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program "in response to House Republicans' concerns that the entitlement program will expand," CongressDaily reports.
House Republicans had proposed placing a cap of 300% of the federal poverty level for enrollment in Medicaid, which Democrats have said is not acceptable, according to CongressDaily. The new proposal would not set a hard cap but would remove incentives for states to enroll in Medicaid families with incomes above 300% of the poverty level by reducing the federal matching rate for those beneficiaries.
Senate Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said, "The Republicans are afraid that if we don't put a lid on Medicaid expansion, all the states would turn to Medicaid, and then they go right into universal health care." Grassley said that the new language would "take care of the problem in a way that isn't offensive to Democrats." He implied that the proposal has the support from at least a few Democrats, according to CongressDaily.
Democrats have not formally responded to the proposal. "Even as staff-level talks continue" on a possible SCHIP compromise, stopgap funding for SCHIP will be included in an omnibus spending bill that likely will extend the program until October 2008, CongressDaily reports.
Several House Republicans, including House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) and Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), have said that they are unlikely to support the Medicaid language proposed by Senate Republicans (Johnson, CongressDaily, 12/6).
"Bush's lame-duck attempt to repair the Republican Party's threadbare fiscal reputation is an increasingly reckless game," with his recent vetoes and threatened vetoes of appropriations bills and legislation to reauthorize and expand SCHIP, a New York Times editorial states. "In the name of faux fiscal discipline, he is threatening to veto budget measures that the nation needs for effective government," although the "differences between the Democrats' spending bills and Mr. Bush's budget are not that large," and "Democrats are offering to split the difference," according to the editorial.
In addition, Bush in October vetoed a "sensible" SCHIP bill that would have "provided health insurance for millions of uninsured children" as part of a "game ... to portray the narrow Democratic majority in Congress as feckless overspenders," the editorial states.
According to the editorial, Bush "clearly doesn't care who suffers" -- such as "vulnerable children without health insurance" -- from his "manufactured standoffs and blame-the-Congress gridlock" (New York Times, 12/6).