Senate Republican Whip Trent Lott of Mississippi has introduced an 18-month extension of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. The SCHIP Extension Act of 2007 will ensure that States have the funding to continue the program without funding cuts.

Without action, SCHIP will expire on September 30, 2007. The bill passed by the Senate in August was a $35 billion expansion of the current program that uses budget gimmicks and altered language to continue enrolling new adults over the 10-year reauthorization, yet only allowing increased funding for the next five years. This Democratic expansion will enlarge the program 140 percent, more than doubling its original scope.

“President Bush has already vowed to veto a massive expansion of this program,” Senator Lott said. “States need assurance that SCHIP funds will not be held as a political hostage in order to continue the steady operation of this program. It is irresponsible for Congress to engage in a partisan, political showdown over an issue this important.”

Senator Lott’s proposed extension would fund the program through the beginning of fiscal year 2009 by providing $6.5 billion for the 2008 fiscal year and $3.6 billion for the first half of the 2009 fiscal year. This extension adds an additional $1.5 billion for FY08 and an additional $1.1 billion for the first six months of FY09. The funding increase in the SCHIP Extension Act of 2007 is a 33 percent expansion of the program’s baseline.

According to Congressional Budget Office estimates, the funding increases will ensure that no state would have to reduce their benefits package or change their current eligibility standards due to a lack of federal funding for the entire 18-month extension.

“It is time for the majority’s leadership to meet our basic responsibility and fund these important programs in a disciplined and responsible way,” Senator Lott said. “Everyone agrees that SCHIP is a valuable program and should be reauthorized with its original intent in mind – uninsured, low-income children – but the majority of Republicans and Americans do not think this authorization should be a bait-and-switch for a massive, Washington-run healthcare system for middle-income adults.”

Congressmen Joe Barton (R-TX) and Nathan Deal (R-GA) have introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.

Senator Trent Lott Release