U.S. governors lobbied House and Senate lawmakers for help with the challenges states face regarding Medicaid and the State Childrens Health Insurance Program.
The House Energy and Commerces Health Subcommittee heard testimony divided along party lines on how to improve public insurance coverage for children. At issue was a directive issued last August by the CMS that requires states to successfully enroll 95% of the eligible children from families with incomes below 200% of the poverty level in either SCHIP or Medicaid, before covering families with incomes above 250% of the federal poverty level.
Democratic governors from Ohio, Massachusetts and Washington said the directive needs to be rescinded. Thousands of children between 250% and 300% of the federal poverty level would be uninsured under this policy in Massachusetts, said that state's Gov. Deval Patrick. However, Republican governors argued that expanding coverage to children from higher income families would overburden SCHIP in their states. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said his state is already struggling to cover children from families with incomes below 200% of the poverty level.
Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano urged Senate Finance Committee members to halt the directive limiting SCHIP enrollment and to immediately stop any new Medicaid regulations from going into effect. Napolitano, a Democrat, also asked federal lawmakers to consider a provision in a second economic stimulus package now being drafted that temporarily increases the federal share of Medicaid dollars that funnel down to the states. -- by Matthew DoBias and Jennifer Lubell
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