Proposed healthcare coverage expansion for children up for debate

Legislation to expand the federal program that provides funding for Denali KidCare was before the U.S. House and Senate today. The House passed a bill that would provide a $50 billion expansion of the decade-old State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) over the next five years. The bill also has provisions that would avert a planned 10% cut in Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors, boost compensation for rural health providers and offer more generous subsidies to low income Medicare recipients. All that would be paid for by a hike in cigarette taxes and cuts to the Medicare Advantage program.

State of Alaska officials have been urging more S-CHIP funding for Denali KidCare. But Congressman Don Young said several things kept him from voting for the bill.

Over on the other side of Capitol Hill, the Senate continued debate on a bill that would expand the S-CHIP program by $35 billion over five years. Alaska Senators Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski support that bill, although other Republicans argue it costs too much and complain it’s a big step toward a federal government takeover of health insurance. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants to take a final vote on the bill over the next few days.

Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, D.C.