U.S. Senate Committee Set To Mark Up Kids’ Health Insurance Bill
The Senate Finance Committee by the end of June will mark up a bill that would reauthorize and expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program, according to committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.), CongressDaily reports.
Baucus said he met on Monday with committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) to discuss providing as much as $50 billion to reauthorize and expand the program. He also plans to discuss the issue with lawmakers on Wednesday.
A tobacco tax increase "is believed to be the most likely option on the table to fund SCHIP," CongressDaily reports. Medicare is another potential funding source, particularly payments to Medicare Advantage plans, home health providers and durable medical equipment providers.
Baucus said he is unsure whether he and Grassley will be able to find $50 billion in offsets to pay for the SCHIP reauthorization and expansion.
CongressDaily reports that the "high end" of a tobacco tax increase -- 61 cents -- would offset $35 billion.
Grassley on Monday said that he has reservations about increasing the federal tobacco tax because of its potential impact on businesses but added that he might support an increase to offset SCHIP spending.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said, "The appetite for covering children is great. The appetite for paying for the coverage is less great" (Edney/Johnson, CongressDaily, 6/13).