Chambliss opposes $35-billion SCHIP reauthorization - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Chambliss opposes $35-billion SCHIP reauthorization

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August 4, 2007

Albany -- The measure to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program passed in the Senate on Thursday with a 68-31 margin. It's a measure that would provide $35-billion to a federal program insuring 71% of children in America with taxpayer-subsidized medical care.

Currently, Georgia's Peachcare program receives federal funding from the program.

But with President Bush vowing to veto the bill, it is likely more changes will be made before the September 30th deadline.

At the Senate level, the federal program was designed to earn much of its $35-billion in funding over the next 5 years from a 61-cent increase on cigarette tax; a measure that was heavily favored by Democrats. But Republican lawmakers on the other side of the aisle say the bill goes far beyond it's original intent of providing health care to low income children.

Senator Saxby Chambliss was one of 31 U.S. Senators that opposed the reauthorization.

He said, "The bill that the finance committee passed out that came to the floor of the Senate that ultimately did pass, is going to cost Georgia's taxpayers a lot more money than they're going to get benefit from."

Since 1997, SCHIP has federally funded state insurance programs like Georgia's Peachcare, which insures children not covered by private insurance programs.

While Senator Chambliss supports SCHIP, he says the current bill, which will likely be vetoed by  President Bush, has too many flaws. Chambliss believes Georgia's Peachcare program, despite recent financial issues, can succeed under a different measure.

"Georgia has a great program, and we need to continue it. But Georgia's taxpayers need to pay a fair share for other states, not an exorbitant rate on other state's programs," said Chambliss.

Supporters of  SCHIP say the program has exceeded expectations, providing children that would have otherwise been uninsured with healthcare coverage. But critics of the bill say it's affording coverage to adults who should not be covered by the program.

Chambliss said, "This is a children's health coverage program. It's not meant for adults. Unfortunately, we have 14 states that cover adults. States like New Jersey and Indiana have more adults than they do children on this program, and that's not right. That's not what Georgia taxpayers expected they would be paying for."

Chambliss said that we while he supports the Peachcare program, he sees the increased cigarette tax as a way to curb smoking, leaving tax payers to provide much of program's costs.

But with SCHIP set to expire September 30th, if vetoed, it will be up to lawmakers from both parties to revise a new bill that will provide coverage to millions of children across the country.

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