The CMS is contacting states that are on the verge of running out of money to fund the State Childrens Health Insurance Program to see what their options are if the program lapses after Sept. 30, according to acting CMS Administrator Kerry Weems.
Queries have been made to CMS regional officers in 12 states, Weems said in an interview. The SCHIP program expires at the end of the month unless it is reauthorized by Congress. At deadline, House and Senate lawmakers were finalizing a reauthorization package said to be modeled after the Senates proposal to fund the program with an additional $35 billion over five years. President Bush, however, has threatened to veto the legislation.
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, characterized the agencys inquiries as a political stunt. Congressional Democrats have every intention of sending Bush a bill that reauthorizes SCHIP by Sept. 30, Pallone said in a written statement. I am confident the final bill will allow us to reach millions of children who are already eligible for the program but who are not currently enrolled.
Pallone said Bush should remember the promise he made at the Republican National Convention in 2004 to enroll more children in government health insurance programs and join us in supporting a bill that will significantly reduce the number of uninsured children. -- by Jennifer Lubell
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