Senators Unveil Bill To Address Funding Gaps in CHIP at Outreach Launch
Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) yesterday announced legislation that would address "funding gaps" in the CHIP program and prevent 900,000 children from losing coverage over the next three years, when federal funding for the program gradually decreases, Reuters reports (Reuters, 8/1). The measure, cosponsored by Sens. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.), was unveiled at the launch of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's "Covering Kids" campaign for the new school year (Rovner, CongressDaily, 8/1). The bill would maintain 2001 federal funding levels for CHIP in fiscal years 2003 and 2004. As it stands now, federal funding of CHIP will drop by 26% over the next three years because of a provision in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. As a result, about 900,000 children would lose CHIP coverage between 2003 and 2006 (Rockefeller release, 8/1). The legislation also would extend a law that allows unspent CHIP funds to be reallocated to states instead of requiring states to return that money to the federal treasury, CongressDaily reports. Kennedy said it would be "intolerable" not to spend money on the program at a time when many children remain uninsured (CongressDaily, 8/1).
The kick-off event also featured the release of an Urban Institute and RWJF study, which found that of the estimated 8.2 million uninsured children at the beginning of 2002, 4.7 million are eligible but not enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP (California Healthline, 8/1). Speaking at the event, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, said, "The coverage that exists is simply not being used and that has got to change." Thompson and RWJF officials said that this year's efforts will "more intensively" target minorities, who face cultural and language barriers to enrollment (CongressDaily, 8/1). NPR's "All Things Considered" yesterday included an interview with RWJF incoming President Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey. The full segment is available online in RealPlayer online.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.