Look for the House Democrats to compromise on SCHIP to more closely follow the Senate Bill. Although many House Democrats are unhappy with the compromise bill, negotiated primarily by Nancy Pelosi, they are unlikely to vote against it. The compromise bill will increase the funding $35 billion over the next five years, bringing the total to $60 billion, which will be funded by an increase to 61cents per pack on cigarettes.
The compromise bill will likely waive some of the new rules announced by the Bush administration last month, but it will likely not eliminate all of them. One rule, particularly difficult to achieve, would require states to enroll at least 95% of children with family incomes below 200% of the poverty level. Identification of 95% of these children is almost impossible, not to mention, actually enrolling them in the program. The latest information is that the bill will affirm states rights to decide who qualifies for enrollment to the program based on poverty level percentages.
House Republicans are starting to splinter. Even with the compromise, a veto override sufficiency is not expected.
This from the White House
Office of Management and Budget Director Jim Nussle on Monday in an interview said he will not compromise on Bush’s SCHIP spending limit, CongressDaily reports. Nussle said, “The president has made it very clear …. he sets the top-line number, and he’s going to hold to it,” adding, “I don’t feel as if I need to reinterpret what the president said” (Cohn, CongressDaily, 9/18). Bush has proposed a $5 billion increase over five years for SCHIP, which would raise the program’s total five-year funding to $30 billion. Bush has said he would veto the House and Senate bills (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 9/6).
Nussle said that Democrats are “choosing political strategy over kids … they can’t get their work done, so they’re going to send up something that they know is veto bait,” adding, “Everyone knows that; it’s been as telegraphed as just about anything around here” (CongressDaily, 9/18). White House spokesperson Tony Fratto said that SCHIP “should be focused on children in poor households,” adding, “We should not be creating policy that substitutes a government-run program for private health insurance”
And the latest report is that 30 Governors signed a letter sent September 17 to Secretary of Health & Human Services Michael Leavitt to rescind the new CMS requirements. Governor Blunt did not sign the letter. The new rules will result in children losing SCHIP coverage.
44 US Senators — including McCaskill and Bond — have signed a letter to President Bush to withdraw the new CMS requirements.
Also forgot to add earlier. the current SCHIP program is due to expire on September 30 leaving vulnerable children without health coverage. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns.