CQ Looks At Bush Administration SCHIP Directive

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Mary AgnesCarey, associate editor of CQ HealthBeat, discusses testimony by Government Accountability Office officials about SCHIP expansion guidelines,compromise on a Senate health information technology bill and a request forincreased funding from FDA's top official in this week's "Health onthe Hill from kaisernetwork.org and CQ."

According to Carey, officials from GAO and the Congressional Research Service told the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee that a policy directive issued by the Bushadministration last August that restricts states' abilities to expand SCHIPswas a regulation and, as such, should have been issued as any otheradministrative rule, meaning that there should have been a period of public comment.Administration officials have said the guidance was designed to ensure thatSCHIP covered the lowest-income children before a state could extend coverageto children of families with higher incomes. Carey says some Democrats aresupporting legislation that would nullify the directive. However, Republicanscontinue to support the directive as a way to ensure that people do not dropprivate health coverage to enroll in government-sponsored health programs.

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In response to privacy concerns in a Senate health IT bill, Carey says sponsorsof the measure reached an agreement that would ban companies from usingelectronic patient information to sell products to patients and would requirethat patients be notified if the privacy of their records is breached. Careysays that resolving the privacy issue could help the bill move more quicklythrough the Senate but that some members and privacy groups may still considerthe provisions inadequate.

Lastly, Carey discusses a letter sent to Congress by FDA Commissioner Andrewvon Eschenbach asking for an additional $275 million in fiscal year 2008 tohelp the agency improve the safety of drugs, devices and biologics, and tomodernize its work force and improve its science base. Carey says somelawmakers are pushing for increased FDA funding, but it remains unclear whetherthe agency will receive it.

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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