Lawmakers in Washington are still haggling over a compromise bill that would reauthorize the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which expires Sept. 30. In the meantime, many state SCHIP programs are being trapped by the rules recently instituted by the Bush Administration that tighten enrollment requirements.
Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter joined 29 other governors Monday in signing a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Director Michael Leavitt asking that the rules be rescinded. The letter, which was originated by New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said in part:
States stand at the forefront of policy innovation and governors are leading the way to create meaningful and sustainable coverage options for their uninsured populations. Governors have repeatedly called upon Congress and the Administration to reauthorize SCHIP before it expires in September. The CMS decision to limit coverage options for states and unilaterally alter existing state plans is contrary to our shared responsibility of working cooperatively to provide health coverage for uninsured children.
Many governors, including Ritter, have been outspoken in urging legislators in Washington to produce an SCHIP reauthorization bill, because states depend on federal funds to run their state programs. Colorado’s version of SCHIP, called CHP+, provides health coverage to almost 53,000 children. An estimated 180,000 remain uninsured in Colorado.