Pressure on Baucus to Fight for CHIP
A prominent children’s healthcare advocate in Montana is putting pressure on Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Finance Committee, to fight for a provision of the Senate’s health reform bill that would preserve the Children’s Health Insurance Program. House Democrats are pushing to terminate CHIP in 2014, but John Morrison, former state auditor and now head of Healthy Montana Kids, writes today that such a repeal would reduce the number of insured kids in the state. From Morrison’s op-ed in today’s Billings Gazette:
There are about 9 million American children covered by CHIP. The number is expected to grow to 14 million by 2013 when the House bill would eliminate CHIP. The Congressional Budget Office has concluded that many of the children already covered by CHIP will wind up uninsured because their families will not be able to afford the insurance exchange.
Baucus, to this point in the debate, has been all over the board on whether to salvage CHIP. Recall that when he first introduced his reform bill in the Finance Committee, he proposed a CHIP repeal similar to that found in the House bill. Just days later though, it was Baucus’ decision to bring up an amendment to reauthorize CHIP through 2019, in effect overturning his own proposal. He then voted for that provision, which was adopted as part of the Senate bill.
Even more recently, Baucus told Montana’s Great Falls Tribune that the Democrats’ successful 2008 push to expand CHIP was the single most significant legislative accomplishment of the last decade. Tough to make such claims and then advocate a full repeal of the program. In Washington, though, stranger things have happened.