HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Thursday, August 2, 2007

House Passes Expanded SCHIP Program

The Washington Post reports on the House passage of the expanded SCHIP program last evening.  It states,

House Democrats pushed through legislation Wednesday to add 6 million lower-income children to a popular health insurance program while making deep cuts in federal payments to Medicare HMOs, defying a veto threat from President Bush.On a 225-204, mostly party-line vote, the House passed the legislation, which would add $50 billion to the decade-old State Children's Health Insurance Program and roll back years of Republican-driven changes to Medicare

The bill would slash federal payments to private insurance companies that cover elderly and disabled patients under Medicare and shift money to doctors and benefits for lower-income beneficiaries. The rest of the children's health increase would come from hefty increases in taxes on tobacco products.

The legislation sparked a bitterly partisan health care battle on the eve of Congress' monthlong summer recess, complete with parliamentary fireworks by angry Republicans. The back-and-forth engulfed a broadly supported program to insure working poor kids in a larger argument over whether the government or the private sector should provide health insurance to the nation's most vulnerable populations.

In the Senate, a more limited, $35 billion expansion of the children's health care program without broader Medicare changes appeared headed for a bipartisan endorsement by the end of the week, despite another threatened veto. Bush has proposed spending half as much on the program _ scheduled to expire Sept. 30 _ over the next five years.

In a veto threat of the House bill issued Wednesday, the administration said the legislation "clearly favors government-run health care over private health insurance," and spends far too much.

For more information about the bill and its passage, see National Public Radio
and for a different view, see Firedoglake (which provides some historical perspective through links and also critiques the Newshour coverage of the issue).

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