Skip to main content

Advanced Search

Advanced Search

Current Filters

Filter your query

Publication Types



Newsletter Article


From the CQ Newsroom: SCHIP Expansion Plan Taking Shape

By Drew Armstrong, CQ Staff

January 18, 2007 -- The health care industry's "strange bedfellows" got back together Thursday to push a proposal designed to provide insurance for most of the nation's children and many adults who lack coverage.

Under the banner "Health Care Coalition for the Uninsured," advocates representing insurers, hospitals, physicians, drug makers, and consumer groups proposed an expansion of Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), along with tax credits, to offer health insurance coverage to half of the nation's 46.6 million uninsured.

Their plan would be implemented in two phases. First, SCHIP funding would be expanded by $45 billion, which would be used to cover about 98 percent of the nation's 9 million uninsured children. Second, Medicaid would be expanded to make eligible all adults at or below the federal poverty level. Tax credits would be given to families at up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level to help them purchase privately supplied insurance.

The coalition had not estimated the cost of the second phase.

SCHIP is due to be reauthorized early this year, and the coalition has been lobbying lawmakers to make the reauthorization the jumping-off point for their plan.

Notably absent from the coalition were representatives from labor and business groups who have been prominent at other recent health care coverage discussions.

"We are strange bedfellows, but let me be clear, we are not interested in a one-night stand," said Ron Pollack, director of the consumers group Families USA.

Several labor groups, however, have not come calling. The Service Employees International Union, the AFL-CIO, and the National Association of Manufacturers all dropped out of the process during the past two years of deliberations.

Members of the coalition did not have a plan for how the SCHIP and Medicaid expansions would be funded. Under pay-as-you-go, rules adopted by Democrats this Congress, spending must be offset by cuts elsewhere.

The national debate over how to deal with the uninsured has intensified in recent months, with stakeholders from all sides proposing policy changes and promising to make the uninsured an issue in 2008.

The coalition's proposal is much like the insurance industry's November 2006 plan, which called for an expansion of federal programs and pursued the strategy of using the SCHIP reauthorization as a starting point.

Several states have taken the lead on addressing the uninsured population. Massachusetts enacted a universal coverage law in 2006, and California and Pennsylvania recently announced legislative drives to cover their uninsured residents.

Publication Details