Sen. Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said today that the panel will start work in June on reauthorizing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The SCHIP program is set to expire Sept. 30. U.S. health insurers have made extending the program a top legislative priority.

Baucus, D-Mont., asked on the Senate floor for bipartisan support for SCHIP extension reauthorization,

Baucus listed 5 principles for guiding the reauthorization effort.

The first is that Baucus wants to provide at least $13.4 billion in additional funding for the program over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office says the program needs at least that much additional funding just to maintain current coverage levels.

Baucus also wants to:

- Reach the 6 million uninsured children who are eligible for either children’s health insurance program or Medicaid coverage but are not enrolled.

- Back state efforts to expand CHIP coverage to more kids.

- Improve the quality of the health care that children receive.

- Avoid making the situation worse.

“Whatever we do, we must not add to the numbers of the uninsured,” Baucus said.