Ugly SCHIP News
A report from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service indicates that if the SCHIP program (for providing health insurance to children in low-to-middle income families that don't qualify for Medicaid) is merely renewed at fiscal year 2007 levels, without the bi-partisan expansion that was passed by Congress and vetoed by President Bush, Ohio will begin to run out of SCHIP money in September 2008, with an $11.9 million shortfall by the end of the year. That's if the program is renewed at current levels.
Will it happen? Now even that is in doubt. Negotiations on a compromise SCHIP expansion that could pass by a veto-proof majority have fizzled. GOP House members have hardened their positions on demanding citizenship documentation as a prerequisite for enrollment and excluding adults (such as parents of eligible children) from the program, among other sticking points. Now it looks like those areas of disagreement may prevent even an extension of the program at current funding levels:
However, Congress "might have as much difficulty with an extension as it has had with a full reauthorization" because the "sticking points in this year's debate have been less over money and more over policy changes advocated by Republicans," CQ Today reports. Those issues, including restrictions on SCHIP coverage for adults and tighter rules aimed at preventing undocumented immigrants from enrolling in the program, "could arise during debate on an extension," according to CQ Today.
Democrats also likely will attempt to negate rules implemented by CMS in August that would require states to enroll at least 95% of children in families with annual incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level before expanding enrollment to children in families with incomes above 250% of the poverty level. President Bush "would likely use his veto power, just as he had with the full reauthorization," if Democrats negate those rules in an extension, CQ Today reports.
So much for working with "moderate" Republicans to pass a bill that the public favors and a majority of legislators say they want. Instead of a compromise, the result is a hardening of GOP partisan ideology at the expense of children.