House leaders are telling members to expect to vote Tuesday on a State Children’s Health Insurance Program extension bill that will closely resemble the Senate extension bill, S. 1893/H.R. 976.
Some House members believe the notice means the SCHIP conference committee decided to scrap House language that calls for cuts in Medicare Advantage funding.
The House version, H.R. 3162, also would impose new rules on marketing and operating Medicare Advantage plans.
The Bush administration has threatened to veto either version of the SCHIP extension bill, arguing that both bills would expand the program too much and crowd out private insurance by leading to the program covering too many moderate-income children and too many adults.
SCHIP extension supporters in the Senate seem to have the votes to override a veto. Over in the House, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, says Republicans have enough votes to sustain a veto there.
Bush has called for increasing SCHIP funding by $5 billion over the next 5 years; the Senate, by $35 billion; and the House, by $50 billion.
Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, says Medicare Advantage provisions and other provisions cut out of the SCHIP extension bill may go in a bill Rangel is drafting that would narrow the scope of the alternative minimum tax.
In related news, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, says the Bush administration changed an independent report commissioned by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to make SCHIP seem more threatening than it really is to the private health insurance market.
“While the original final draft of the report said the substitution of private health coverage with CHIP coverage, or ‘crowd-out’, was ‘not an issue’, the final report with CMS-requested edits eliminates that phrase and instead emphasizes the fact that some ‘crowd-out’ does occur,” Baucus says.
The independent researchers “apparently determined months ago that crowd-out has been so minor and so well-managed that it really isn’t an issue in the administration of CHIP,” Baucus says. “But it seems like CMS didn’t want the full success of the Children’s Health Insurance Program known – not to the Congress rewriting the CHIP law, and not to the American public.”