August 27, 2007 | WebMemo on Health Care
The Bush Administration's release of new State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) regulations is a bold and welcome development. Critics allege the regulations will limit low-income children's access to coverage, but in reality, the new regulations clarify existing law, preserving SCHIP for the core populations it is intended to serve, deterring further erosion of private coverage, and ensuring states are focused on meeting the basic goals of the program.
A New Focus on Children
SCHIP was created to help states assist uninsured children from low-income families access health care services. This population was clearly defined in the law as uninsured children in families at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL).
SCHIP's focus, however, has become blurred over the years. Instead of remaining a targeted program for low-income uninsured children at or below 200 percent FPL, some states have used SCHIP as a vehicle for the expansion of government-run health care.
The Administration's new regulations clarify and reinforce the original focus of the program by requiring states that want to expand SCHIP to do the following:
As debate over SCHIP reauthorization continues, the Administration's new regulations will reduce confusion over the purpose of the program and keep the reauthorization process focused on improving SCHIP as a program for low-income uninsured children, not a vehicle for government expansion. The Administration's new regulations will help to focus SCHIP back to its original calling and prevent it from undermining the foundation of America's private health care system.
Nina Owcharenko is Senior Policy Analyst in the Center for Health Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.
 Donna Cohen Ross, Laura Cox, and Caryn Marks, "Resuming the Path to Health Coverage for Children and Parents: A 50 State Update on Eligibility Rules, Enrollment and Renewal Procedures, and Cost-Sharing Practices in Medicaid and SCHIP in 2006," Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, January 2007, p.32, at www.kff.org/medicaid/upload/7608.pdf.
 Kathryn G. Allen, Director for Health Care, U.S. Government Accountability Office, "Children's Health Insurance: States' SCHIP Enrollment and Spending Experiences in Implementing SCHIP and Considerations for Reauthorization," statement before the Subcommittee on Health of the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the U.S. House of Representatives, February 15, 2007, GAO-07-447T, p. 18, at www.gao.gov/new.items/d07501t.pdf.
 Letter from Dennis Smith to State Health Officials.