Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bush talks compromise on SCHIP


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush and other critics of a $35 billion spending increase for children's health insurance say they'll support expanding coverage to families of four making as much as $62,000 a year, but they want to limit states' ability to go beyond that level.

About three dozen states ignore certain income when determining who can get government-subsidized health coverage. For example, many states exclude child support payments. Others deduct expenses for child care when determining who qualifies for the State Children's Health Insurance Program.


"You leave it up to the states to say you can't have an income level over 300% (of poverty), but you can deduct $20,000 for a housing allowance or you can deduct $15,000 for shelter or whatever," said Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas. "So, what you've got here is the classic bait and switch."

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., said that allowing states to exempt some income helps to ensure that low-income families don't have to resort to welfare to get health care for their children.

Another disagreement over the program's future is over the coverage of adults, even though the Bush administration approved most of the waivers that allowed adults into the SCHIP program. Now, the administration wants to remove those adults from the SCHIP rolls more quickly than called for in the bill that passed the House last week.

Under that bill, states would have to move an estimated 200,000 childless adults off SCHIP within one year. Also, by 2010, waivers covering about 500,000 parents would be paid from a separate fund. States that perform well on covering low-income children could continue covering parents through that fund, which would get a lower federal matching rate than under current policy, Dingell said.