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Bush Administration Backs Off On Kid’s Insurance Squeeze « The Washington Independent

Softening its stance, the Bush administration announced yesterday that it won’t enforce controversial new eligibility rules designed to prevent modest-income kids from enrolling in the popular State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP

The new rules were slated to take effect next Monday, but Medicare officials, who oversee SCHIP, said they don’t intend to penalize states for noncompliance — at least not yet

Under the new guidelines, states would be prohibited from using federal SCHIP funds to cover kids living above 250 percent of the poverty level ($53,000 for a family of four) unless they had first covered 95 percent of kids living under 200 percent of poverty ($42,400). The changes mark one in a growing number of examples in which the administration has hoped to establish policy independent of Congress

The White House and many congressional Republicans say the regulations would ensure that SCHIP targets the children most in need. But state health officials, children’s advocates and many Democrats had howled when the rules were unveiled.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), a fierce critic of the Aug. 17 changes, cheered the White House decision:

Maybe CMS is beginning to get it. This statement seems to show that CMS is finally making the connection between its misguided CHIP directive and the real kids it could hurt.

Considering that the Government Accountability Office deemed the new rules illegal earlier this year, Baucus could well have added that maybe the administration is finally willing to operate within the law.

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