Category Archives: SCHIP

Obama to Sign Children’s Health Expansion Bill Today

President Obama is set to sign the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (S. 275) today.  The text of the Senate-passed bill has been inserted into a House measure (H.R. 2) which must be passed one more time by the House today before Presidential action can be taken.

The AP reports that “up to 13 million children could be covered under the program run by the Health and Human Services Department and state governments” over the next four years.  The bill would reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program through September of 2013 and provide around “$32.8 billion” in new funding.

The funding is paid for by increasing the “federal excise tax on a pack of cigarettes by 62 cents, to $1.01 a pack.”  Notably, the legislation “would allow states to offer a dental benefit through the program for children whose private health insurance does not cover dental care.” Additional details can be found in this article.

Update: President Obama has signed this bill into law. His full remarks are linked here.

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Senators Pass SCHIP Reauthorization Bill

Senators have passed the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (S. 275) by a vote of 66 to 32. The text of the Senate-passed bill has been inserted into the House measure, H.R. 2.

The bill would expand the existing coverage of roughly 6.7 million children under the SCHIP program to include an additional 3.9 million.  It would provide around $31.5 billion in funding for the program and reauthorize it through September of 2013. 

The goal of the SCHIP program is to provide health insurance to low-income children whose families do not make enough money for private coverage but make too much for Medicaid.

This legislation is paid for mainly by a sixty-one cent increase in the federal tax on cigarettes as well as other tax increases on tobacco products. It will now go to a conference with House and Senate negotiators to work out the differences in their two bills.

Notably, many Republicans objected to a provision that allows coverage for “certain legal immigrants” according to the Washington Post article linked below. This bill works to eliminate a previous five-year waiting period for such coverage to be obtained.

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Senate Clears Remaining SCHIP Amendments

Senators have cleared a number of remaining amendments to the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (S. 275).  A vote on final passage is forthcoming.

  • Coburn Amendment – This amendment would have provided assistance to help individuals work toward obtaining private insurance coverage.  Senators defeated it by a vote of 36 to 62.
  • Bunning Amendment – This amendment would have removed an exemption for New York & New Jersey which allows them to provide SCHIP coverage to families above 300% of the federal poverty level.  Senators voted to table, or kill, the amendment by a vote of 54 to 44.
  • Hatch Amendment – This amendment would have codified an HHS regulation that gives states the option of providing SCHIP coverage to children before birth by defining “child” as anyone from conception to 18 years of age.  Senators voted to defeat the amendment by a margin of 39 to 59.
  • DeMint Amendment – This amendment would provide all eligible families with an above-the-line income tax deduction for each child comparable to the average share of government benefits given to children of non-citizens covered under the SCHIP bill.  Senators defeated the amendment by a vote of 40 to 58.
  • Coburn Amendment – This amendment would state that before New York can provide SCHIP coverage to those children whose families make an income above 400% of the federal poverty level, their Medicaid improper payment rates must be in line with the rest of federal government.  Senator Coburn (R-OK) said that New York accounted for 50% of current fraud within the program.  Senators defeated the amendment by Voice Vote.
  • Bingaman Amendment – This amendment would clarify that, under an express-lane eligibility provision, the consent of a parent for the enrollment of a child into the SCHIP program can be accomplished through something other than a formal signed document at a Medicaid office.  Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) vehemently opposed this amendment on the floor saying it weakened fraud protections under the program and that it violated a compromise in last year’s bill that required a valid signature.  Senators adopted the amendment by a vote of 55 to 43.
  • Hutchison Amendment – This amendment would allow states with the highest percentage of uninsured children to be given priority for outreach & enrollment under the SCHIP program.  Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) said that a Congressional Budget Office “score” noted that such a provision would actually save money in the bill.  Senators defeated this amendment by a vote of 17 to 81.

This list is not yet complete and will be updated later tonight.

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Senate Defeats Cornyn Amendment to SCHIP Bill

Missed this one today.  Senators voted to table, or kill, an amendment offered by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) to the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (S. 275) by a vote of 64 to 33.

Here is a quote per the Republican floor update page from Cornyn which briefly explains the amendment’s purpose:

"My amendment would redirect those funds to make sure they’re reserved for covering low-income children, or for outreach and enrollment activities. I think it’s important we put some money into that to let people know, to educate them that this is available for their children and sign them up, rather than use those funds to cover children from higher-income families. This amendment sends the message that Congress will meet its responsibility of putting first things first by taking care of low-income children."

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Senators Defeat Murkowski Amendment to SCHIP Bill

The Senate has defeated an amendment offered by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (S. 275) by a vote of 47 to 51.

This amendment would give states the flexibility to provide SCHIP coverage to children of families whose income is above 300 percent of the federal poverty level if state officials can document that 80 percent of the children whose families are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level are being covered.

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Senate Defeats Kyl Amendment to Prevent “Crowd-Out” Policy

The Senate has defeated an amendment offered by Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) to the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (S. 275) by a vote of 42 to 56.

The amendment would reinstate a provision previously included in the SCHIP reauthorization bill last year which required “that all states submit a state plan amendment detailing how each state will implement best practices to limit crowd-out. It also required the Government Accountability Office to issue a report describing the best practices by states in addressing the issue of SCHIP crowd-out. Finally, it required the Secretary of HHS to ensure that states which include higher income populations in their SCHIP programs cover a target rate of low-income children,” according to a Republican Policy Committee summary (.pdf) of the bill.

This so-called “crowd-out” effect occurs when government-subsidized assistance, in this case children’s health insurance, causes individuals to drop their private plans and obtain government coverage.  Some lawmakers believe this takes away from opening up the SCHIP program to assist additional low-income children, as it was originally intended to do.

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Senate Defeats Roberts Amendment to SCHIP Reauthorization Bill

The Senate has defeated an amendment offered by Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) to the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (S. 275) by a vote of 36 to 60.

The amendment would have prevented families from obtaining SCHIP coverage unless their income was less than the state median average or less than $65,000, whichever figure is the lowest.

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