Senate Democrats

FACT CHECK – Secretary Leavitt and CHIP

Today on C-Span’s Morning Edition, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, provided misleading information about the bi-partisan Senate Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Bill. Below are his comments and the corresponding facts.

LEAVITT FALSELY CLAIMS BI-PARTISAN BILL FAVORS PUBLIC OVER PRIVATE INSURANCE.

LEAVITT: “This is not about going out and finding more children who are low income. It’s about finding ways to shift those who currently have private insurance to public insurance. It’s very much a part of a long-term strategy they have. They refer to it as Medicare for all. Medicare is a plan that serves older Americans, but they’d like it to cover every American. It’s also a plan that’s beginning to make our financial future substantially imperiled because it’s being spent, deficits are being run, it’s at the heart of our financial problems as a country. So that’s the issue.”

REALITY: The Children’s Health Insurance Program is a public-private partnership that focuses on providing low-income children with health care coverage. The Senate measure in fact encourages public and private solutions to cover children.  Most CHIP, and Medicaid, beneficiaries receive coverage through private managed care plans that contract with their states, not through government doctors.

LEAVITT CLAIMS THE BI-PARTISAN SENATE BILL DIRECTLY PROVIDES ASSISTANCE TO HOUSEHOLDS EARNING ABOVE $80,000.

LEAVITT: [The Children’s Health Insurance Program] was intended to assure Americans of incomes less than 200% of the poverty level that their children, those under 18, could get health insurance. It’s a successful program and it needs to be reauthorized by September the 30th. The president very much desires to see it reauthorized. It’s an important part of the way we meet the needs of those who are in need in our country, and the debate really is about whether to reauthorize it or to have a huge expansion of it. The president is anxious to see it reauthorized, but he did not view it in the interests of our country to start off providing government insurance to people who make above $80,000 a year in income and to provide public assistance to 73% of the children in our country.”

REALITY: The Children’s Health Insurance Program is a federal-state partnership where states make the determination as to eligibility levels.  Under the bi-partisan Senate bill, any state that makes new plans to cover children in families above 300 percent of the Federal poverty level will receive lower matching funds for that coverage.

LEAVITT PROMOTES THE BUSH PLAN, CLAIMING THEY WANT TO KEEP THE PROGRAM AS IS.

LEAVITT: We’d like to renew the program and continue it as it is. It’s been a great success. Any child that’s under 200%, 200% of the poverty level, is provided with insurance and we pay for most of it. They pay about 30% of it, the federal government pays about 70%.

REALITY: The President’s plan doesn’t continue the program as is.  In fact, under the President’s plan, the Congressional Budget Office estimates 800,000 kids would lose coverage.

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