Wednesday, October 10, 2007

SCHIP-Do We Need It?

Today's hot issue...

One of the core values of the Rocky Mountain Family Council is affordable health care for our Rocky Mountain region families.

Having a family health-care package is a valuable but less common employment benefit. Many employers have cut this area of their employee costs by either eliminating coverage for employee family members altogether or requiring the employee to bare some if not all of the cost.

For families at the Federal poverty line ($41,000 for a family of four), buying private health care is often unreachable. The SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program) funds insurance for 4 million children in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to buy private insurance.

In Colorado, the SCIP Program offers families whose income falls between 151 and 185 percent of the federal poverty level, a one-time registration fee of $25 for one child or a $35 fee for their entire family.

Founded in 1997 as part to the Balanced Budget Act, it originally authorized $20 billion over ten years to assist states in purchasing health care for children from poor families. The law authorizes states to provide health care for targeted low-income children who are not eligible for Medicaid or are not insured.

According to some advocate groups, there may be more than 9 million children nationally without medical insurance. Recently, Congress voted an additional $35 billion over five years to extend the SCHIP coverage to millions of these kids.

This is a sensible program. It legitimately helps poor families and their kids. But like most federal entitlement programs, the DNA of these programs is to grow and expand. And the price tag will grow too. The bump in the road on this one is how large this program should be. Democrats in Congress want to expand this program's coverage while President Bush is seeking to keep it smallish.

Our solution: Provide SCHIP coverage for families who income falls below the federal poverty level. Also, looks for ways to enable insurance companies to offer reduced premiums to families.

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