Republicans Offer SCHIP Proposal of Their Own

It makes much better sense than the Democrats’ “let government pay for it all” solution. Rob Bluey has the details:

As Democrats stage the ultimate political stunt Thursday with an override vote of President Bush’s SCHIP veto, Republicans are actually planning to do something about saving the children’s health care program.

Sens. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio) will join Reps. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.), Tom Price (R-Ga.), Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) and Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) to introduce an alternative to the Democrats’ $35-billion expansion. The lawmakers plan an afternoon news conference in the Capitol around the time of the veto vote.

Their alternative, based on a proposal crafted by the Heritage Foundation, consists of three elements:

1) A full reauthorization of SCHIP. The program would continue to cover children in families with incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty level;

2) A child health care tax credit. Rather than putting more people on a government-run program, the legislation advances tax credits to families with incomes between 200% and 300% of the poverty level; and

3) A health care “federalism” initiative. This piece would complement both the reauthorization and the tax changes in expanding health care coverage, and would encourage even more dramatic health care experimentation at the state level with different approaches to coverage expansion.

Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have supported the idea of a tax credit, and others, such as Sen. Jeff Bingaman ☼ (D-N.M.) and Rep. Tammy Baldwin ☼ (D-Wis.), have offered legislation supporting the “federalism” approach.

Well, then Pelosi, Bingaman, and Baldwin can sign on to this compromise proposal. However, as Rob notes, the Dems primary goal with this issue has been to score political points, so they may very well dismiss the Republicans’ proposal so they can continue to beat the Republicans and President Bush over the head with their current one.

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