White House Likely To Resist Kids’ Insurance Expansion
The Bush administration plans to "strenuously resist" Democratic efforts to expand SCHIP, which will expire on Sept. 30, "ensuring a clash with Congress over the most important health care legislation being considered this year," the New York Times reports.
President Bush has proposed to increase funds for SCHIP by $4.8 billion over five years. In addition, Bush has proposed to reduce federal funds for states that have expanded SCHIP eligibility to children in families with annual incomes more than 200% of the federal poverty level to "refocus the program on low-income uninsured children."
At least 17 states would lose federal funds as a result of the proposal.
Meanwhile, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and other Democrats have proposed to increase funds for SCHIP by $50 billion over five years "as a first step to universal coverage," the Times reports.
Dennis Smith, director of the Center for Medicaid and State Operations at CMS, said that SCHIP was established "to cover low-income children who were uninsured," adding that the proposals by Democrats "would change the complexion of the program and take it away from its original intent." Smith said, "At higher income levels, families are more likely to have private health insurance. If they become eligible for the Children's Health Insurance Program, you are more likely to be substituting public for private coverage. You could add billions of dollars to the program without insuring many new kids."
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt added that SCHIP "should not be the vehicle by which we insure every adult and every child in America."
Dingell said, "One of my problems with this administration is that there are people who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing," adding that SCHIP is "a great investment" (Pear, New York Times, 4/1).