Advocates of reauthorizing and expanding SCHIP "are warily training their eyes on next year with a mix of anticipation and anxiety" as it seems unlikely that there will be another vote on the legislation during the current congressional session, CongressDaily reports (Edney, CongressDaily, 9/15).
Congressional Democrats recently said they will not hold a vote on SCHIP legislation this year, citing an inability to override a promised veto by President Bush (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 9/8). In January, the House fell 15 votes short of overriding Bush's veto of SCHIP legislation, CongressDaily reports.
Ron Pollack, president of Families USA, said the group has urged Democratic leaders to avoid scheduling an SCHIP vote if there is not enough time also to schedule a veto override.
According to a GOP aide, "Republican staff still anticipates a politically driven SCHIP vote in the next few weeks." While discussions of an SCHIP vote came about after Republicans joined with Democrats to override Bush's veto of Medicare legislation, Democrats do not expect a similar situation with SCHIP, CongressDaily reports.
"Whether SCHIP's time comes sooner or later," one of the measures advocates are expected to support is a provision that would eliminate a five-year ban on documented immigrant children enrolling in the program, CongressDaily reports. The House had included such a measure in its SCHIP bill, but lawmakers thought the issue was too controversial to include in compromise legislation.
First Focus President Bruce Lesley said, "This is really unfinished business of this Congress," adding, "We should just get SCHIP done and then really focus on national health reform." Other advocates said that SCHIP should be separate from overall health system changes, CongressDaily reports.
Edwin Park, a senior fellow on health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said that with the future of SCHIP uncertain after funding expires in March 2009, some states "may decide to forgo expansion and even more modest changes like making enrollment easier" when planning their budgets (CongressDaily, 9/15).