Republicans Propose New Medicaid Language In SCHIP Bill

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State Children's Health InsuranceProgram

Senate Republicans haveproposed new Medicaid language for legislation that would reauthorize andexpand SCHIP "in response to House Republicans' concerns that theentitlement program will expand," CongressDaily reports.House Republicans had proposed placing a cap of 300% of the federal povertylevel for enrollment in Medicaid, which Democrats have said is not acceptable,according to CongressDaily.

The new proposal would not set a hard cap but would remove incentives forstates to enroll in Medicaid families with incomes above 300% of the povertylevel by reducing the federal matching rate for those beneficiaries. Senate Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said, "The Republicans areafraid that if we don't put a lid on Medicaid expansion, all the states wouldturn to Medicaid, and then they go right into universal health care."Grassley said that the new language would "take care of the problem in away that isn't offensive to Democrats." He implied that the proposal hasthe support from at least a few Democrats, according to CongressDaily.

Democrats have not formally responded to the proposal. "Even asstaff-level talks continue" on a possible SCHIP compromise, stopgapfunding for SCHIP will be included in an omnibus spending bill that likely willextend the program until October 2008, CongressDaily reports.Several House Republicans, including House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Nathan Deal (R-Ga.)and Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), have said that they are unlikely to supportthe Medicaid language proposed by Senate Republicans (Johnson, CongressDaily,12/6).



"Bush's lame-duckattempt to repair the Republican Party's threadbare fiscal reputation is anincreasingly reckless game," with his recent vetoes and threatened vetoesof appropriations bills and legislation to reauthorize and expand SCHIP, a New York Times editorial states. "In the nameof faux fiscal discipline, he is threatening to veto budget measures that thenation needs for effective government," although the "differencesbetween the Democrats' spending bills and Mr. Bush's budget are not thatlarge," and "Democrats are offering to split the difference,"according to the editorial.

In addition, Bush in October vetoed a "sensible" SCHIP bill thatwould have "provided health insurance for millions of uninsuredchildren" as part of a "game ... to portray the narrow Democraticmajority in Congress as feckless overspenders," the editorial states.

According to the editorial, Bush "clearly doesn't care who suffers"-- such as "vulnerable children without health insurance" -- from his"manufactured standoffs and blame-the-Congress gridlock" (NewYork Times, 12/6).

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