The Senate Finance Committee has unveiled a $31.5 billion bill to reauthorize the State Childrens Health Insurance Program over 4½ years, with plans to consider the bill for passage on Thursday.
The legislation seeks to preserve coverage for as many as 6.7 million children currently enrolled in the SCHIP, while providing coverage to 3.9 million additional uninsured, low-income children. A 61-cent increase in the federal tax on cigarettes, with proportional increases for other tobacco products, would serve as the bills main funding source.
Im committed to go the last mile now and finally see a SCHIP expansion signed into law, said Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) in a written statement. The full Senate will take up the bill this month following passage in the Finance Committee, according to the statement.
In other provisions, the legislation would adjust the state allotment formula to reflect actual projected spending in the program, include bonus payments to states for enrolling lowest-income children for health coverage and offer a contingency fund to protect states from shortfalls in unforeseen emergencies.
Meanwhile, the House is gearing up to consider its own SCHIP bill Wednesday, which has a slightly higher price tag of $35 billion. Reflecting similar bills approved in the previous Congress, the House version would provide coverage for 4.1 million new children, for a total of 11 million children over 4½ years, according to a spokesman for House Chief Deputy Whip Diana DeGette (D-Colo.).