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Life Health > Health Insurance > Health Insurance

Senate Panel Hammers Out SCHIP Proposal

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Members of the Senate Finance Committee plan to meet Tuesday to consider a “chairman’s mark” of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program reauthorization bill, committee leaders said Friday.

The chairman’s mark, unveiled Friday, calls for increasing the program’s budget to an average of $12 billion per year for the next 5 years, from the current allocation of $5 billion per year, according to a joint statement issued both by the Democratic leaders of the Senate Finance Committee and the committee’s health subcommittee, and by the most senior Republicans on the committee and the health subcommittee.

President Bush has proposed holding SCHIP authorization to an average of about $6 billion per year over the next 5 years. The White House announced Saturday that the president would veto the kind of SCHIP expansion described in the Senate Finance Committee chairman’s mark.

Provisions of the chairman’s mark call for:

- Changing the state SCHIP allotment formula.

- Creating an emergency fund.

- Letting states use information from food stamp programs and other initiatives for low-income families to find eligible children

- Giving states the option of covering prenatal care for pregnant women.

- Coping with past waivers that have let states use SCHIP funds to cover low-income parents by creating separate block grants to fund that type of coverage.

- Shifting childless adults who now have SCHIP coverage into Medicaid.

- Forbidding the federal government from granting any future waivers to use SCHIP to cover adults who are not pregnant.

- Paying for the increase in SCHIP funding with a 61-cent increase in the federal tax on cigarettes and an increase in taxes on other tobacco products.

The chairman’s mark repeatedly emphasizes that states can use waiting periods to keep SCHIP coverage from crowding out private health coverage, and it includes a section on coordinating SCHIP coverage with private coverage.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the most senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, says the chairman’s mark of the SCHIP reauthorization bill would allocate more for SCHIP than the Bush administration has proposed, but less than the $15 billion per year allowed by a budget agreement that Congress approved earlier this year.

Authorization for SCHIP expires on Sept. 30.

A copy of the chairman’s mark is available


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