NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 30, 2007

Many states are making it easier for more middle-class families to participate in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), even as President Bush's health chief says families are relying too much on public money for coverage, says the Associated Press.

When the program began a decade ago, states could offer coverage to families whose income was not more than double the federal poverty level.  Today, it is rising quickly:

  • That threshold, currently $41,300 for a family of four, is already exceeded by 18 states, with federal permission.
  • Five more, plus the District of Columbia, could join the list this year, according to a survey by Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families.
  • New York lawmakers recently set an income limit of up to $82,600 for a family of four.


  • Other states considering significant expansions in eligibility include California, Ohio and Oklahoma; Florida and Oregon are considering modest expansions, the center reported.
  • Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt says if other states followed New York's proposal, it would mean that 71 percent of the nation's children would be on "public assistance."

A large expansion of the program is a priority for Democrats.  But the Bush administration wants the insurance program to help just low-income families.  Leavitt says all states should enact plans that would provide other families with access to more basic insurance policies.  For example:

  • Leavitt noted that Michigan was working on a plan that would pay as much as $35,000 in a year for health costs and could serve as many as 1.1 million people.
  • Tennessee is developing what Leavitt described as a "very basic" insurance plan; the plan would cost $150 a month -- $50 from the insured, $50 from the employer and $50 from the state.

Source: Editorial, "States Expand Government-Funded Health Care for Children,", April 30, 2007.

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