Governors Urge SCHIP Reauthorization

State leaders gathering at the National Governors Association annual meeting over the weekend urged Congress and President Bush to move forward with the reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Lawmakers in Washington are facing off with President Bush over funding for the program, which is set to expire Sept. 30.

Bush wants only $5 billion in additional funding for the program over five years, while a proposal by the Senate Finance Committee aims to add $35 billion. Bush has threatened to veto the proposal.

Members of the NGA Health and Human Services Committee sent a letter to the President Sunday stating that the “authorization for this critical safety net program will soon expire and urgent action is needed to ensure its continued success for the next five years.”

continued…The governors stopped short of advocating for a specific amount of funding, but they suggested support for a higher amount than the President wants:

While we have not taken a position on the actual overall funding amount or the sources of revenue used as offsets, we are encouraged by the Senate Finance Committee’s efforts to move a bipartisan reauthorization bill that provides increased funding and reflects the general philosophy that state flexibility and options and incentives for states are preferable to mandates.

SCHIP covers children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but can’t afford private insurance. About 50,000 children in Colorado are covered by SCHIP, but that number is likely to drop if the program doesn’t receive more funding. The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured estimates an additional $13 billion to $15 billion is needed just to maintain current enrollment levels.

Senate Finance Committee members approved the $35 billion proposal July 19 by a vote of 17-4. The proposal is seen as a bipartisan compromise because some Democratic lawmakers had originally sought $50 billion in funding.

Read more about the showdown over SCHIP:
Colorado Senators Divided on SCHIP Funding