June 18,2007

Senators Blast Apparent Attempt to Shrink Number of Kids Eligible for CHIP Program

Study from Department of Health and Human Services could cost five million uninsured children a chance at health coverage

Washington, DC – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Health
Subcommittee Chairman John D. Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) today blasted a new, skewed report
from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that tries to deny the number of
uninsured children eligible for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program or Medicaid. The
HHS study ignores widely accepted data indicating that six million uninsured American children
qualify for CHIP or Medicaid. The Senators sharply questioned the accuracy of the data released

“This study flies in the face of all accepted data on the number of uninsured American children who desperately need and could receive health coverage through a renewal of the CHIP program,” Baucus said. “The Urban Institute study counting about six million uninsured children as eligible for CHIP or Medicaid has long been accepted by researchers and policy makers alike. And this new lowball figure for eligible children does nothing to change the CBO finding that the Administration’s budget proposal for CHIP would not only fail to reach additional children, but would actually cause 1.4 million kids to lose their CHIP coverage. I have been concerned before about CMS portraying political efforts as actual research. I intend to closely review not only the data released by CMS, but also the methodology that went into achieving this data and the motivations for its creation. The Finance Committee will craft a robust renewal of the Children’s Health Insurance Program based on the actual facts.”

"The study put forward by HHS is a deliberate attempt to derail continued health care coverage for children. The Administration doesn't want to make a real commitment to our kids, and it is using every excuse it can -- even manufactured ones -- to walk away from covering uninsured children,” Rockefeller said. “The reality is, there are 9 million uninsured kids in America, and we have a responsibility to provide them with health care," Rockefeller said. "The President's proposal falls short and would result in children being dropped from the children’s health insurance program. That's unacceptable to me and a majority of the Senate. We will continue to put kids first, and make sure that states have the resources they need to provide coverage for these very real and vulnerable children."

There are significant indications that the study’s methodology was not sound – for instance, in
counting the number of uninsured children eligible for public health programs, the study only
considers children who go an entire year without insurance for eligibility, which is not a requirement of CHIP or Medicaid. It is also unclear whether the study was appropriately peer-reviewed.

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