Bush skirts SCHIP reform in speech to governors

During his address to the National Governors Association on Monday, President Bush failed to discuss his administration’s perceived lack of funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) — an issue of great importance for many of the governors.

Republicans and Democrats alike are worried that inadequate funding of SCHIP, which provides health insurance for children not covered by Medicaid, would lead to families losing medical coverage. While SCHIP was designed to make health insurance available to more children, several states have expanded the program to also cover adults.

Governors from both parties have criticized the White House for not setting aside sufficient funds to keep the program running smoothly.

“Well, the top of our mind in Georgia is the children’s health insurance program,” Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) said Monday on Fox News. “It has been a great program for 10 years, needs reauthorization, but there is a critical funding shortage facing Georgia this year.”

“We need immediate action from the administration and Congress and we’re imploring both of those to do their share to fund the federal part,” he added. “Our states are willing to fund the states’ parts, but we need the Congress to step in and to fund the shortfall.”

White House spokesman Tony Snow on Monday defended the president’s SCHIP reform plan and said the administration would seek to return the program to its initial purpose of providing health insurance to children.

“The key on SCHIP reform, first, is to go back to the point I made earlier, which is it refocuses it on poor kids,” Snow said. “There are a number of other programs with generous reimbursements for adults.”