SCHIP Battle Continues

The Bush Administration continues to battle the Congress over the federal program to insure children. The latest escalation comes via new administrative rules promulgated by the Administration to limit participation in the program. (See my previous posts on SCHIP) The Washington Post reports on the new rules:

Under the new policy, a state seeking to enroll a child whose family earns more than 250 percent of the poverty level — or $51,625 for a family of four — must first ensure that the child is uninsured for at least one year. The state must also demonstrate that at least 95 percent of children from families making less than 200 percent of the poverty level have been enrolled in the children’s health insurance program or Medicaid — a sign-up rate that no state has yet managed.

The Administration’s goal is to stop the spread of the program, which it considers to be a mortal threat in the long term to private insurers. SCHIP was begun in 1997.

SCHIP was created in 1997 to help insure children whose families earned too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford insurance on their own. It serves about 6.6 million children annually, but will expire at the end of September if Congress does not reauthorize it.

As Congress look to expand the program upon re-authorization the Bush Administration and the right (see the Wall Street Journal editorial page) have drawn a line in the sand. The Administration’s position was articulated by Dennis Smith.

We would not expect any effect on current enrollees from this review strategy,” Smith wrote. He added that this focus on “the core uninsured targeted low-income population” will strengthen the program, known as SCHIP.

But the critics are lining up.

Cindy Mann, executive director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University, said they “would effectively foreclose the opportunity for states to cover children in families with incomes of about $40,000 to $50,000 a year, depending on the size of family.”

Rahmn Emanuel, a former Clinton staffer and now Congressman, said:

“States want to get these kids enrolled, and they will get them enrolled,” said Emanuel, who helped create the program as a staff member in the Clinton administration. “I think states will see the letter for what it is, and that’s a political ploy by the president. This is a political attempt by the administration to try to intimidate states.”

And so the political tug of war continues over program re-authorization. Look for a tremendous political struggle over this, which very well may be the first salvo in a long political fight over health care. Read the Post article at this link.

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1 Response to SCHIP Battle Continues

  1. Jules Gordon says:

    Your Honor,

    I knew nothing of this program before it became news. However, as I followed it, I noticed that the Democrats were trying to expand the program to include higher wage earners.

    I am totally against any expansion.

    I notice Clintonians had a hand in this.

    No Hillary Care.



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