Sens. Norman Coleman, R-Minn., and Christopher Bond, R-Mo., joined 6 other Republicans Monday in calling for the Bush administration to ease new rules discouraging states from providing subsidized health coverage for moderate-income children.

The list of signers also includes 35 Democratic senators and an independent, Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut.

The letter was initiated by Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Gordon H. Smith, R-Ore.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid moved Friday to reject an application of New York state to expand the New York State Children’s Health Insurance Program to make subsidized coverage available to families earning as much as 400% of the federal poverty level.

Maintaining the current base limits on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program will impose “unnecessary and insurmountable roadblocks to a state’s ability to help additional uninsured children,” the signers of the letter tell President Bush.

The letter is “a bipartisan effort to urge Bush to withdraw this regulation before forcing the hand of Congress,” Smith says in a statement. “In Oregon alone, this regulation could jeopardize the state’s efforts to extend health care coverage to 100,000 uninsured children. The White House should be working with Congress to expand coverage rather than restricting it.”

“American children from working families that cannot afford private health insurance should not have this safety net cut out from under them – they have nowhere else to turn for health coverage,” Menendez says in a statement of his own. “These limits would dump thousands of children into the ocean of the uninsured and it would handcuff states seeking to throw a life buoy to additional uninsured children.”