Q: How is the State Children’s Health Insurance Program structured?
A: SCHIP is a partnership between federal and state governments, operated at the state level.
Q: Who is eligible for SCHIP?
A: Each state operates its own SCHIP program and has its own eligibility requirements.
Q: How is SCHIP funded?
A: It is jointly financed by the federal and state governments. Unlike Medicaid, SCHIP is a block grant program with funding that has caps both nationally and state by state. To encourage states to participate in SCHIP, the federal government assumes a larger share of SCHIP financing by paying higher matching payments relative to Medicaid. Distribution of SCHIP funds across states is based on each state’s share of low-income children.
Q: What is the SCHIP reauthorization debate in Congress all about?
A: According to the New England Journal of Medicine it has mostly to do with ideologies in the two political parties. Democrats and a number of Republican allies want to expand SCHIP and cover millions more kids, but the Bush White House claims that would be going too far toward “federalizing health care.”
Q: Does the SCHIP program ever cover adults?
A: Under federal waivers, some states have been permitted to use SCHIP funds to cover parents. Research shows increased enrollment and improved access and utilization of health service among children when parents are also covered.
Q: GOP Senators Charles Grassley and Orrin Hatch are co-authors of SCHIP legislation. What was their reaction to the White House veto of a reauthorization bill?
A: They issued a joint press release calling the veto “disappointing, even a little unbelievable.”
Q: What impact would SCHIP expansion have?
A: It would cover an estimated 3 million more children than the current program.
Q: With the economy tanking and the U.S. Treasury awash in red ink, won’t the increased funding needed for SCHIP expansion be a problem?
A: Research shows that SCHIP saves money, providing children the preventative care they need rather than costly hospital stays. Cutting SCHIP would create a false savings because other government agencies must pick up the tab for children without coverage who later need care.
Q: Why is the SCHIP reauthorization bill so important?
A: The level of federal funding will determine whether states have sufficient funds to continue covering children who are now enrolled and whether they will be able to reach out to millions of other kids who need the program.