Salazar Criticizes Bush’s SCHIP Rules

Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar was one of 44 lawmakers who signed a letter yesterday urging President Bush to retract new restrictions on states’ abilities to expand eligibility for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The letter, sent by Democratic New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez and Republican Oregon Sen. Gordon H. Smith, expressed the lawmakers’ opposition to the rules instituted by the Bush Administration last month and says they will leave needy children uninsured:

“We oppose these new requirements as they will result in the loss of coverage for tens of thousands of children and could block efforts underway in other states working to insure more kids. SCHIP provides health insurance to low-income children whose parents work. Unfortunately, for most, their parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, yet cannot afford private coverage.Therefore, SCHIP has served as a vital safety net filling the void and protecting against increased numbers of uninsured children.

The letter comes after federal officials denied a request Friday from the state of New York to expand eligibility requirements for children in the state.

The current SCHIP program is set to expire Sept. 30, and while both the U.S. House and Senate have passed reauthorization bills, a compromise bill has not been sent to the President. President Bush has threatened to veto both versions of the bill, which call for $35 billion to $50 billion of increased funding.