Twenty-one states will run out of federal funds to administer the State Childrens Health Insurance Program during fiscal 2008 if funding continues at current levels, the Congressional Research Service reports.
Nine states could exhaust their funds as early as March, according to the study by the CRS, a public-policy research arm of Congress.
A resolution keeping the SCHIP program afloat is funding the program at $5 billion for the current fiscal year. This level is projected to be insufficient for 21 states to cover their projected SCHIP spending, representing a shortfall of $1.6 billion, the report stated. The resolution expires on Nov. 16.
The reports findings add fuel to an already heated debate between Congress and the White House over SCHIP spending levels. The House last week approved legislation that would fund the program at $35 billion above the programs baseline of $25 billion over five years, using tobacco tax money as a funding source. The CRS estimates that this legislation, similar to a bill vetoed by the president several weeks ago, would provide $9 billion to the states in fiscal 2008, 80% more than the current funding level.
President Bush, who has recommended only a $5 billion increase over the programs baseline over five years, has threatened to veto any legislation that is funded with a tobacco tax.
Meanwhile, the Senate voted 62-33 today to continue debate on a bill that would increase SCHIP funding by $35 billion over five years.
President Bush, according to reports, ratcheted up his confrontation with Democratic leaders Wednesday, laying out what he said is a stark ideological divide between a fiscally prudent, free market-loving GOP president and a Congress that aims to raise taxes and nationalize healthcare.
His remarks were part of a broader effort to seize the offensive against the Democratic-led Congress in a series of legislative battles involving budgetary matters and health care policy. But, particularly aggressive in tone, the speech also had the appearance of throwing down a political gauntlet.
''We've tried by the way here in Washington to have a major effort to put the federal government square in the center of healthcarein 1994and the legislation didn't pass,'' Bush said before a friendly audience, the fall conference of the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Products Association. -- by Jennifer Lubell
What do you think? Post a comment on this article and share your opinion with other readers. Submit your letter to Modern Physician Online at [email protected]. Please be sure to include your hometown and state, along with your organization and title.