July 22,2008

Senators Vow To Keep Fighting For Children’s Health Care

Washington, D.C – Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV
(D-W.Va.), said today that they will continue to fight for health care for American kids
shut out of the Children’s Health Insurance Program under an August 17, 2007 rule set by
the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Baucus announced late today that the
Finance Committee would not mark up a resolution tomorrow disapproving of the rule,
after the Senate Parliamentarian said consideration of the resolution was not protected
under the Congressional Review Act. In filing the resolution, the Senators and their 45
co-sponsors maintained that the Congressional Review Act “clock” requiring a resolution
of disapproval to be filed within 60 days of the rule’s submission to Congress should
have started from the date of the resolution’s introduction or from the date of CMS's
refusal to submit the rule to Congress on May 7, rather than from the date of GAO's April
17 legal opinion determining the letter was a rule.

“We all know that the Children’s Health Insurance Program works to get American
kids in low-income families the doctor’s visits and medicines they need to stay
healthy, and I don’t want a single child who is eligible for this program unfairly cut
off from care,”
Baucus said. “There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and I fully
intend to work with Senator Rockefeller and with the dozens of Senators who
support CHIP for kids to get rid of this wrong-headed rule. The Children’s Health
Insurance Program should be there for American kids in need.”

“It is indeed a sad day when the Administration can flout the clear requirements of
the law. Perversely, today’s ruling has the effect of rewarding the Bush Administration’s illegal behavior in issuing this rule. That’s deeply disappointing to me,”
Rockefeller said. “The fight to protect our children’s health care is far from over. This was one option that we pursued, but we are determined to find another way to preserve the coverage for these children. We’re going to continue to build on the overwhelming bipartisan support for our efforts in the days and weeks ahead. Every Member of Congress should be outraged by the ease at which the Administration circumvented the law and Congress as an institution,” Rockefeller continued. “Instead, we have had some Members fight us every step of the way on nullifying this illegal policy in an ill-advised attempt to protect this Administration from the lawsuits filed by several states stemming from the August 17th rule. Such an approach is regrettable.”

Under the Congressional Review Act, Senators have 60 days from the time a rule is
submitted to both Houses of Congress and the Comptroller General (without counting
days on which a House of Congress was in a recess for more than 3 days) to file a
challenge to the proposed regulation. The Parliamentarian concluded that the 60-day
clock started on the date of the April 17th GAO letter determining that the CHIP directive
was a rule for purposes of the CRA. As a result, the timeframe for Congress to take
advantage of the expedited procedures under the CRA ended on July 8, 2008, and the
CHIP directive resolution could not be considered privileged under the Congressional
Review Act. The Parliamentarian concurred with the Government Accountability
Office’s legal opinion that the August 17th CHIP directive was a rule for the purposes of
the Congressional Review Act.