Congress appears to be preparing for a veto of legislation to expand the 10-year-old State Childrens Health Insurance Program.
A federal budget measure approved by the House today contains language to sustain SCHIP temporarily. Specifically, the language states that SCHIP would get funding for fiscal 2008 and for one or more subsequent fiscal years.
The House earlier voted 265-159 to approve a bill that would fund SCHIP with an additional
$34.7 billion over five years and extend coverage to about 10 million children. Forty-five
Republicans voted for the legislation, although the final tally fell shy of the 290 votes
needed to override a presidential veto. The Senate is expected to approve the bill today
President Bush has said that he will veto the bill later this week, claiming that Congress
is trying to expand SCHIP to children from higher-income families. President Bush would
like to see this reauthorized. Wed do this today, but this is a program to cover
low-income children, and thats not what the bill does, said HHS Secretary Mike
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) said in a written statement
that This is not socialized medicine as our president has often said. It is sound moral
health policy and our country should not provide less.
The bill would allow coverage of children of higher-income families but under certain
conditions. After Oct. 1, 2010, federal matching payments would not be permitted to states
that cover children whose family incomes exceed 300% of the federal poverty rate, if the
state does not meet a target for the percentage of children at or below 200% of poverty
enrolled in SCHIP. -- by Jennifer Lubell
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