Moves to reauthorize the State Childrens Health Insurance Program could take place as early as next week, Democratic healthcare leaders claim.
SCHIP reauthorization is part of the Houses agenda, and should become law in the near future, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) indicated in news reports. A temporary extension of the $25 billion program will expire on March 31, giving Congress little time to place a reauthorization bill on President-elect Barack Obamas desk. Previous Democratic-backed proposals in the 110th Congress to expand the program by $35 billion over five years to $60 billion were vetoed by President Bush.
Its a positive signal that the Congress and the new administration are going to make childrens health one of its first priorities, said House Chief Deputy Whip Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), who is vice chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. DeGette presented her wish list for a reauthorization bill in a letter to Hoyer and Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) saying, We should not simply pass a bill, but we should instead ensure that the bill we do pass does the most possible to improve the SCHIP program, and enroll 6 million currently eligible but unenrolled children.
On the Senate side, Its safe to say that Sen. (Max) Baucus intends to work with his partners on the Finance Committee to move forward quickly on SCHIP reauthorization, said an aide to the Montana senator, who chairs the committee.