House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that Congress may be forced to pass a
short-term extension to the State Childrens Health Insurance Program in lieu of broader
legislation that has a long way to go toward a compromise and a short time to get there.
The federal-state SCHIP program, which covers about 6.6 million children from low-income
families, expires Sept. 30.
Hoyer told reporters that ideally, the House bill that reauthorizes and expands the SCHIP
programand which includes numerous other measurescould be reconciled with a much slimmer
and cheaper Senate bill. But failing that, Hoyer said an extension that funds the program
at current levels, roughly $5 billion per year, would be used as a stopgap. There may be
a chance of doing that, he said about the extension.
The House bill would fund SCHIP at an additional $50 billion, putting the total at more
than $75 billion over five years. But because of other Medicare provisions tacked on to
the bill, its actual price tag is closer to $100 billion and would require cuts to the
Medicare Advantage program as offsets. The House bill would also reverse a looming 10% cut
to physician reimbursement and instead replace it with two years of positive updates, both
Meanwhile, the Senates SCHIP bill would add $35 billion in funding, for about $60 billion
over five years, and would rely mostly on an increase to the tobacco tax to get there.
Other top Democrats in the House said that they want their Medicare provisions to stay in
the bill even though both Republicans and Democratic members of the Senate want them
stripped out. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus has said that he wants to deal
with a straight SCHIP bill in conference.
Senate Republican leaders this week blocked attempts made by Senate Majority Leader Harry
Reid (D-Nev.) to name federal lawmakers to a conference committee. -- by href="mailto:[email protected]">Matthew DoBias
href="mailto:[email protected]">Matthew DoBias
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