Bush Signs SCHIP Extension, Provides Funds Through March 2009
State Children's Health Insurance Program
President Bush on Saturday signed legislation that will providefunding for SCHIP through March 2009, the AP/HoustonChronicle reports. The extension is expected to provideenough funds to cover children currently enrolled in the program.White House spokesperson Tony Fratto said, "We're pleased thatthe program will be extended and that states can be certain of theirfunding."
Democrats, who were unable to reach acompromise with Republicans on a long-term reauthorization of theprogram, have said that they will continue to negotiate with GOPleaders. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that Democratswill not stop "until 10 million children receive the health carecoverage they deserve" (Feller, AP/Houston Chronicle,12/29/07).
States Unlikely To Expand SCHIP Programs Under Stopgap FundingMeasure
Republican and Democratic lawmakers say that when they return toCongress in January 2008, they will try to reach a compromise on along-term reauthorization of SCHIP, the AP/LexingtonHerald-Leader reports. However, while "[d]ifferencesover who should get coverage have clearly narrowed over the pastmonths, ... differences over how to pay for expansion remainconsiderable," according to the AP/Herald-Leader.
Congress last month approved a continuing resolution thatwill maintain coverage for current beneficiaries, after Bush twicevetoed large spending increases proposed by Democrats. The "modestspending increase" has "scuttled" plans by severalstates that had planned to expand health coverage, theAP/Herald-Leader reports. "Few expected such aresult when 2007 began," according to the AP/Herald-Leader.
Democrats also were unable to rescind guidelines issued bythe Bush administration in August 2007 that require states to enrollat least 95% of eligible low-income children before expandingeligibility to children in families with higher incomes. The policydirective will impact about half the states. Cindy Mann, executivedirector of the Centerfor Children and Families at Georgetown University, said that therule is "definitely a step backward from where we started in2007," adding, "We would have seen growth in the program.We're not going to see that growth, and by August, we'll start to seea ratcheting down" (Freking, AP/Lexington Herald-Leader,12/26/07).
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