Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.) have introduced a bill that would block a CMS directive that set tighter requirements for enrolling children from higher-income families in the State Childrens Health Insurance Program.
At a time when the number of uninsured children is steadily rising due to the economic recession, Congress must overturn the Bush administrations mean-spirited and illegal childrens health directive, said Pallone, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee, in a written statement.
The legislation was introduced a day after the CMS issued a letter to state health officials offering more flexibility in the way states could carry out the terms of the directive.
The CMS clarified that states would be able to suggest other strategies than what were in the original directive to prevent crowd-out, where higher-income families substitute public coverage for private coverage.
The directive issued last August required states to first enroll 95% of children in families earning less than 200% of the federal poverty level$42,400 for a family of fourbefore they can seek to enroll children in families earning more than 250% of the federal poverty level. The directives original purpose was to prevent crowd-out, but many states have said that it would be too difficult for them to meet that goal of covering 95% of the lower-income children. Based on conversations with states, we are convinced that a number of states have already reached this goal, acting CMS Administrator Kerry Weems said in a written statement.