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Rockefeller, Snowe Announce SCHIP Reauthorization Plan

By CQ Staff

March 30, 2007 -- Senate Finance Committee members John D. Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, announced a plan Friday to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program that would more than double state allotments to cover children while streamlining the eligibility process.

The proposal also would ease requirements to document citizenship and improve benefits.

The two senators released a summary of the proposal Friday, saying they would introduce the actual reauthorization legislation the week after the April recess. The plan aims to maintain SCHIP coverage for those now enrolled while also covering the 6 million children who are eligible but not enrolled.

To that end, it would establish an "Express Lane" eligibility option permitting states to rely on financial information gathered from other low-income programs such as the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program that provides supplemental nutrition as well as school lunch programs.

The measure would establish a mechanism to ensure funding for successful outreach programs and for states experiencing strong Medicaid enrollment growth. The proposal also would give states flexibility "to determine the best way to establish citizenship," according to a summary. The senators said there is growing evidence that eligible children are being denied Medicaid coverage because of "onerous" documentation requirements.

In addition, the legislation would give states the option to cover pregnant women and children who are legal immigrants and more discretion to cover children of state employees.

Among other provisions, the bill also would strengthen standards to ensure mental health coverage in SCHIP programs and make dental coverage a guaranteed benefit. The Senate budget resolution calls for expenditures of $50 billion over five years to fund SCHIP expansion, the senators noted.

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