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Pelosi: Budget Resolution to Include Added Funds for SCHIP

By John Reichard, CQ HealthBeat Editor

March 9, 2007 -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced Friday afternoon that the House budget resolution will include a reserve fund to cover all children who are eligible for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), a step that if approved by Congress would lower the number of uninsured children by "millions" over the next five years.

SCHIP enrollment now totals about 6 million children. Another 6 million children are eligible for the program but are not enrolled, say congressional analysts.

Pelosi did not say how much money was involved, but Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., used a figure of $50 billion over five years for the added cost of covering all eligible children. However, a congressional staffer who cited Congressional Budget Office data has put the five-year cost at $32 billion.

The statement issued by Pelosi described the reserve fund as "budget-neutral," which means the costs of SCHIP expansion would be offset elsewhere in the federal budget. SCHIP expires Sept. 30. The reserve fund would address funding for the planned five-year reauthorization of the program.

Pelosi also said the House would act to prevent shortfalls in 14 states that are projected to run out of SCHIP funding this fiscal year. She said $750 million will be included for that purpose in the supplemental spending bill to be marked up by the House next week. The supplemental measure is expected to go to the floor of the House the week of March 19.

The House is expected to mark up its version of the budget resolution the week of the 19th with floor action the week of March 26.

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