Senate Democrats

President Bush Issues Misleading Statement of Administration Policy on Senate Children’s Health Insurance Bill

Today the Bush Administration underscored their veto threat in their Statement of Administration Policy on the bi-partisan Senate Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization. In their Statement, the administration makes several erroneous assumptions about the bill. Below are key administration assertions with the corresponding facts.

The Administration Incorrectly Asserts the Senate Bill Would Provide Coverage for Families Earning $83,000 or More.

RHETORIC: The Senate bill changes the focus of the Children’s Health Insurance Program “from those who cannot afford coverage to include families with incomes of up to $83,000 per year or even more.”

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

The Administration Incorrectly Describes the Program as Being Underfunded After the Authorization Expires.

RHETORIC:  The bi-partisan Senate bill sets the Children’s Health Insurance Program on an “unsustainable course by expanding and then drastically underfunding the program in the future by at least $60 billion.”

REALITY: The Senate bill is fiscally responsible, following Democratic-established ‘Paygo’ rules. The bill provides health insurance coverage for an additional 3.2 million low-income children by implementing a modest increase in the excise tax on tobacco products. In addition to an overwhelming majority of Americans supporting an increase in tobacco taxes to pay for children’s health care, higher tobacco taxes will result fewer smokers, particularly among teens. To be clear, this bill seeks to reauthorize the program for five years.  Before the program expires in 2012, the Congress and a new administration will work to provide funding for this program.

The Administration Falsely Claims the Senate Bill Would Federalize Health Care in America.

RHETORIC: “The bill is inconsistent with the principal of choice for American consumers and instead goes too far in federalizing health care.”

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.

The Administration Wrongly Asserts The Senate Bill Would Reverse the Course of Moving Adults Out of CHIP.

RHETORIC:  “The Administration is also concerned that S. 1893 will delay the Administration’s efforts to transition adults out of SCHIP and into Medicaid.” 

REALITY: The bi-partisan Senate measure curbs adult coverage in three key ways. First, the bill prohibits new waivers for parents and preserves the bar on new waivers for childless adults. Second, the bill calls on states covering childless adults to transition them out of the Children’s Health Insurance Program within two years. Third, federal funding for coverage of low-income parents in states with existing waivers will be reduced after a three to four year period. 

The Administration Wrongly Describes the Bill’s Coverage of Pregnant Women.

RHETORIC: “The Administration strongly objects to provisions in [The Senate Bill] that wrongly weakens the current option available to States to cover unborn children and their mothers.”

REALITY: States will have an additional option to cover pregnant women as a state option as well as maintaining the options to cover them through regulation. 

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