CMS Head Discusses Compromises For Reauthorizing SCHIP

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State Children's Health Insurance Program

Former acting CMSAdministrator Leslie Norwalk said this week that many scenarios mightoccur in efforts to pass legislation that would reauthorize and expandSCHIP, CQ HealthBeat reports (Carey, CQ HealthBeat, 8/9).

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Senate legislation (S 1893),approved last week, would reauthorize SCHIP and increase the federalcigarette tax by 61 cents per pack to boost funding for the program by$35 billion over five years. The House version (HR 3162),also approved last week, would reduce payments to Medicare Advantageplans and increase the federal cigarette tax by 45 cents per pack toincrease funding for SCHIP by $50 billion over five years. The Housebill also would make a number of revisions to Medicare. President Bushhas proposed a $5 billion increase over five years for SCHIP, whichwould raise the program's total five-year funding to $30 billion (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 8/9).

Norwalkin an interview on Thursday said she finds it difficult to believe thatDemocrats and Bush will be able to reach a compromise on a five-yearextension of the program and instead might approve a shorter extension.Norwalk said, "Whether it's two years or one year or five years, a lotof that will just depend on amounts. I don't know how they're going toget five years. ... Something shorter, that is less money -- thepresident will have a harder time vetoing it."

In addition,Norwalk said that reductions in payments to MA plans most likely willbe smaller than the cuts included in the House legislation, becauseBush is more likely to veto larger cuts.

Norwalk also said CMSlikely will not further reduce coverage of Epogen for dialysispatients, although the decision might be reconsidered after the resultsof a Sept. 11 FDA advisory panel meeting on the issue or with additional CMS data (CQ HealthBeat, 8/9).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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