Lawmakers in the House and Senate have proposed legislation that would provide incentives for states to expand children’s healthcare and help enroll uninsured children who qualify for public coverage.The bill from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) would expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to include families earning up to 400% of the federal poverty level and offer a new option for both families and employers to buy coverage through SCHIP.
Dingell said he wanted to move the bill as a stand alone, but that the sponsors were also interested in incorporating the legislation’s provisions into any SCHIP reauthorization bill this year. No cost estimate was provided. Dingell said the Congressional Budget Office will be looking at the potential cost of this legislation.
"I’m confident that we’ll be able to come up with significant savings elsewhere" to pay for the proposed coverage expansions in this bill, he said.The Federation of American Hospitals supported the bill, but said that Congress shouldn’t tap into hospital payments to help finance the legislation. Hospitals are already experiencing falling margins under Medicare as well as increasing Medicaid-payment shortfalls, FAH President Chip Kahn wrote in a letter to Dingell. The Senate Budget Committee in the meantime is preparing to mark up a bill that would provide $50 billion to SCHIP over five years.