Editorials Address SCHIP

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StateChildren's Health Insurance Program

Summaries of editorials andone letter to the editor discussing legislation to renew and expand SCHIPappear below.

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Editorials

  • Akron Beacon Journal: The recent budget confrontation between congressional Democrats and President Bush "underscored the task the Democrats face, with their slim majorities, to shift spending to crucial programs that would be shortchanged by a president lately touting fiscal responsibility," a Beacon Journal editorial states. "No effort this year has illustrated this contest of priorities [more] than the failed attempt to reauthorize" SCHIP, according to the Beacon Journal. "If the hope was that" certain changes made to alleviate some of Bush's concerns would persuade the president "to ensure more low-income children received the benefit of good health care, it did not work out," the editorial states, continuing, "He still claimed the cost was unacceptably high, even as uninsurance among children is rising again." The editorial concludes, "Congressional Democrats have conceded their helplessness against veto threats. They should hold out for smarter spending priorities" (Akron Beacon Journal, 12/18).
  • Anchorage Daily News: Last week's veto of legislation to renew and expand SCHIP "shouldn't be the last word," but rather each side should seek a compromise, a Daily News editorial states. The Daily News cites a compromise struck in the Alaska state Legislature that would provide an additional 1,300 children and 200 pregnant women with health insurance, adding, "[H]ere's a case in which Washington might take a lesson from Juneau." Bush claimed that he disagreed with the 61-cent-per-pack cigarette tax included in the SCHIP bill and that he did not want families to leave private insurance plans for a government-funded plan. The editorial writes, "The tax question could be worked out," and "[a]s for private insurance, ... the whole reason the nation has this program is that millions of working Americans can't afford private health insurance." The editorial adds, "Instead of dealing vetoes and keeping millions of Americans from health care," Bush should "lead the way to compromise -- and Democrats should be willing to meet him halfway" (Anchorage Daily News, 12/16).
  • Birmingham News: "Republicans ought to be really upset with Bush" because as the upcoming elections near, "the Republican Party is being seen as the heavy in the battle over the popular SCHIP, even though the bill is bipartisan," a News editorial states. The News continues, "Bush can't run for president again, but what he does reflects on his party." The editorial concludes, "As we head toward the presidential and congressional elections next year, many voters will take notice" (Birmingham News, 12/19).
  • Springfield Republican: "There are complex political calculations" at play in the conflict over SCHIP, in which each side "believes that it can gain some political leverage, ... with Democratic lawmakers feeling they can paint the president as heartless" and the White House thinking "it can successfully portray congressional Democrats as unconscionable spendthrifts," a Republican editorial writes. "But there is something else to consider: Behind all the talk and maneuvering, there are real children being helped by a real program," according to the editorial. "One can find fault with a specific or two" of the expansion bill, "but on the whole it is an effort to increase the reach of an effective and relatively inexpensive program," it states. As the debate continues, there will be "accusations and recriminations, finger-pointing and bloviating," and "all the while, there'll be children across the land -- millions of them -- who won't have any health insurance," according to the Republican. It concludes, "That's not a political calculation -- it's a shame" (Springfield Republican, 12/17).
  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Congress and the White House have wasted a whole year playing politics with children's health insurance," according to a Journal-Constitution editorial. "A temporary solution may emerge at the end of the week, ... but if so, it would ... keep the issue hot through the next political season," and it "may not provide enough money" to keep state programs operating at current enrollment levels, the Journal-Constitution states. The editorial adds, "To avoid that and to provide assurance to families that need to know whether their children will be covered by the government-subsidized plans, Congress has one remaining option," which is that instead of "approving a major five-year reauthorization, it should focus on extending [SCHIP] for 18 months, or until the next Congress and administration take office" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12/18).

Letter to the Editor

  • Bill Lucia, The Hill: "When policymakers in Washington bicker about expanding [SCHIP], they overlook simple non-controversial changes that could benefit thousands of uninsured children today," Lucia, president of Health Management Systems, writes in a letter to the editor in The Hill. If SCHIP agencies nationwide could identify "just 4% of all SCHIP beneficiaries with private health insurance," they could save $1 billion over five years, according to Lucia. In addition, officials should "have the authority to recover costs from private insurance carriers," which would provide "savings that may be used to provide coverage for additional children," Lucia writes. Congress also should allow SCHIP agencies to "recover accident costs from casualty insurers," he adds. Lucia concludes, "Despite the contentious debate, everyone agrees that SCHIP should cover the greatest possible number of low-income children. With little controversy, these uncomplicated fixes could help safeguard SCHIP funding for those who need it most" (Lucia, The Hill, 12/19).

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.

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