The House is poised to vote today on the House-Senate compromise to reauthorize the State Childrens Health Insurance Program. The bill would fund the 10-year-old SCHIP with an additional $34.7 billion over five years, and extend coverage to about 10 million children primarily from low-income families, although President Bush says he will veto the bill.
A statement from the White House said that the compromise bill goes too far toward federalizing healthcare, and turns a program meant to help low-income children into one that covers households with incomes up to $83,000 a year.
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, asserts that the vast bulk of the children covered under the bill are below 200% of the federal poverty level.
Among other things, the bill would phase out coverage for nonpregnant childless adults, and put limitations on the matching rate for states that propose to cover children from families that are above 300% of the federal poverty level. The bill also calls for analyses on how to prevent substitution of SCHIP coverage for private coverage.
The measure would also establish a contingency fund for states that would experience a funding shortfall as a result of enrolling more low-income children. States would get bonuses for exceeding targets in enrolling eligible children in Medicaid and SCHIP. The Senate may vote on the bill as early as Wednesday. -- by Jennifer Lubell
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