HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Child Health Care

The Governors and the White House are at odds over the future of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-Chip).  The New York Times reports today that meetings between the Governors and President Bush show that they are not on the same page with regard to future money for the program.

In the session at the White House, when President Bush reported on progress of the war, governors pressed him to provide more money so they could guarantee health insurance for children. In response, administration officials said states should make better use of the money they already had.

Gov. Sonny Perdue of Georgia, a Republican, said afterward, “Health care for children ought to be a priority, irrespective of anyone’s views on the war.”

Georgia will exhaust its allotment of federal money for the Children’s Health Insurance Program within three months, Mr. Perdue said. Thirteen other states expect to run out by September, according to data released here at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.

Governors said the Clinton and Bush administrations had encouraged them to expand children’s coverage and had granted waivers allowing them to cover parents and even some childless adults.

Having successfully expanded the health insurance programs in their states, some governors now suggest that the Bush administration is pulling the safety net out from under many children.  In his budget this month, Mr. Bush said he wanted to return the program to its “original objective” of covering children with family incomes less than twice the poverty level. Budget documents note that 16 states cover children above that level and that “one state, New Jersey, covers children up to 350 percent of the federal poverty level.”  A family of four is classified poor if its annual income is less than $20,650.

An influential member of Congress said Monday that he would not be taking up White House proposals to restrict eligibility and financing for the child health program.

“I have absolutely no intention of moving the president’s proposals through our subcommittee,” said the lawmaker, Representative Frank Pallone Jr., Democrat of New Jersey.

I guess the final veneer of the compassionate conservative has worn off . . . .   More information on the program funding issues can be found at Stateline.org.

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