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CQ Discusses State Children's Health Insurance Program

Armen Hareyan's picture

State Children's Health Insurance Program

Mary AgnesCarey, associate editor of CQ HealthBeat, examines SCHIP negotiations, theLabor-HHS-Education spending bill veto and efforts todelay a scheduled Medicare physician fee cut in this week's "Health on the Hill from kaisernetwork.org and CQ."

Democratic leaders and House Republicans were unable to reach a compromisebefore the Thanksgiving recess on legislation that would reauthorize and expandSCHIP, Carey says. Some Republicans want the bill to include stricter measuresto prevent undocumented immigrants from enrolling in the program, as well aslanguage that would cap Medicaid eligibility at 300% of the federal povertylevel and prohibit states from excluding certain types of expenses whendetermining SCHIP or Medicaid eligibility. However, if the legislation makestoo many concessions to Republicans, it could lose the support of Democraticlawmakers, Carey says. A temporary funding extension for SCHIP ends Dec. 14.Negotiations are expected to continue when Congress reconvenes, and lawmakerscould pass a longer-term extension of the program.

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Carey also discusses House lawmakers' failure to override President Bush's vetoof the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill. Bush vetoed the legislation --which includes spending for Medicare, Medicaid and NIH, amongother health-related programs -- because he said it was excessive. The measureincluded $9.7 billion in discretionary spending above the president's request.According to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House and SenateDemocrats are considering sending Bush a multi-bill "omnibus"appropriations package next month, but a White House spokesperson said Bush hasbeen clear about Congress passing individual appropriations bills at"reasonable and responsible" spending levels, Carey says.

Finally, Carey discusses efforts to stop a 10% Medicare physician fee cutscheduled for Jan. 1, 2008. According to Carey, the Senate Finance Committee likely will mark up a Medicare package early next month, and thepackage is "widely expected" to stop the scheduled fee cuts for oneor two years. The physician payment fix likely would be financed by paymentcuts to other Medicare providers, such as MedicareAdvantage plans. Carey says that there might not be enough time left this yearto move a stand-alone Medicare bill, so the fee fix could be combined withother legislation, such as a temporary extension of funding for SCHIP, or itcould be part of an end-of-the-year omnibus package (Carey, "Health on theHill from kaisernetwork.org and CQ," 11/19).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.