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Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Bush Administration's SCHIP Hypocrisy

Bush Administration's SCHIP Hypocrisy

November 7, 2007

We've been laying low on the SCHIP fight because there's been so much other commentary on it. Thank you, President Bush, for giving SCHIP more publicity and attention in the past two months than at any other point in its 10 year history. That's as far as the appreciation goes. Below is a great piece from Dow Jones (reported in today's Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report) on the Bush Administration's track record regarding adult coverage under SCHIP -- priceless:

Dow Jones on Monday examined how although Bush "has complained about adults receiving" SCHIP coverage, it was the Bush administration that "granted the majority of current waivers that enable states to enroll parents" in the program, and "it has approved every one of the waivers that enable the enrollment of childless adults." Eleven states currently provide SCHIP benefits to adults, eight of which were approved during Bush's term. In 2006, about 700,000 SCHIP beneficiaries were adults; 500,000 of those beneficiaries were parents of children enrolled in the program and the rest were childless adults. Childless adults were able to enroll in the program beginning in 2001, after the Bush administration implemented the Health Insurance Flexibility and Accountability initiative.

In July 2006, then-CMS Administrator Mark McClellan said, "Extending coverage to parents and caretaker relatives not only serves to cover additional uninsured individuals, but it may also increase the likelihood that they will take the steps necessary to enroll their children." However, White House spokesperson Tony Fratto said that the administration was "always cautious" about allowing adults to enroll in SCHIP. Fratto said that the administration "listened to the request from states for greater flexibility in administering their state plans for SCHIP," adding, "They argued that adding adults would result in more children being added. This experiment obviously failed and should not be extended" (Mantell, Dow Jones, 11/5).

For more humor in this vein, see this cartoon.