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Priorities for SCHIP Debated

As the debate over reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) heats up in Washington, a diverse group of leaders in health policy and health care praise the program for increasing low-income children's access to affordable health care, saying the program should be extended to additional individuals.

The most recentHealth Care Opinion Leaders Survey from The Commonwealth Fund and Modern Healthcare magazine finds strong support across the board for expanding SCHIP's reach. Ninety-one percent think SCHIP coverage should be made available to legal immigrant children whose families meet income requirements. Four of five, meanwhile, favor allowing families with higher incomes to buy into SCHIP, and the same proportion believe that states should be allowed to extend coverage to parents of children covered by SCHIP in states where no comprehensive coverage for the uninsured is available.

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The survey also found strong support for program changes that would help the U.S. provide high-quality health care for all children. Four of five survey respondents favor establishing federal performance standards and outcomes measures for all children in SCHIP, and seven of 10 favor measuring and reporting on the frequency and quality of developmental screening. Surveyed experts also believe states should be required to reward managed care plans and providers that meet benchmark levels of performance on developmental screening, preventive care, and follow-up treatment.

The April 23 issue of Modern Healthcare provided an overview of the survey's findings. You can also read exclusive commentaries by New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt.

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