Forty-four senatorsincluding six Republicanshave expressed opposition to the Bush administrations recent policy to tighten eligibility requirements under the State Childrens Health Insurance Program.
In a letter, the senators urged President Bush to withdraw the new requirements or subject the policy to a formal rulemaking process, with a notice and comment period.
The CMS in August issued a series of conditions that states must meet in order to expand SCHIP to higher-income populations. Under these new restrictions, states must certify they are already covering 95% of eligible children from families with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level, or $41,300 for a family of four, under SCHIP or Medicaid.
In addition, states cannot cover children in families with incomes above 250% of the poverty level if the states have experienced a decline in employer-sponsored insurance coverage of more than 2% among those families over the past five years.
The administration, which has threatened to veto House and Senate bills that call for more funding and expansions to the program, claims that SCHIP should be focusing solely on low-income children whose families cant afford private insurance. In the letter, the senators said that such restrictions impose insurmountable roadblocks to a states ability to help additional uninsured children. At least one-third of states now cover children above 250% of the federal poverty level, nearly all of which were approved during your tenure, with additional states working to implement plans to cover children at or above this level, the letter stated. -- by Jennifer Lubell
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