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Congress Makes SCHIP Deal

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Congressional leaders today announced a deal to vote on a State Children’s Health Insurance Plan extension bill that would drop Medicare Advantage regulation and funding-cut provisions previously included in the House SCHIP bill.

The compromise bill also would replace current Bush administration efforts to keep states from expanding SCHIP programs to cover moderate-income children, officials say.

Instead, SCHIP programs would have to put the lowest-income children first in line for coverage to get permission to use SCHIP funding to cover children in homes earning more than 300% of the federal poverty level.

The federal government also would work with states on efforts to keep SCHIP coverage from crowding out private children’s coverage.

The compromise bill would increase SCHIP funding by a total of $35 billion over 5 years, which is what the Senate had recommended in its SCHIP bill. The Bush administration has asked for a $5 billion increase and the House has asked for an additional $50 billion in funding.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says House members will vote on the compromise bill Sept. 25. SCHIP authorization is set to expire Sept. 30.