Lawmakers take holiday break without settling SCHIP

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A bipartsan group of U.S. lawmakers did not reach an agreement on revisions to legislation that would reauthorize and expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) before the Thanksgiving break.

Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, said that two weeks of discussions between Democrats and a group of House Republicans have not been sufficient to produce an agreement before lawmakers begin a two-week recess, CQ Today reported.

According to Grassley, progress on a revised bill has been slow because Democrats are concerned about some concessions to Republicans--in particular, whether parents should be eligible for SCHIP coverage. “There were some negotiations that went so far to satisfy some Republicans that it made it possible we'd lose some Democrats,” Grassley told CQ Today.

Congress Daily reported that several House Democrats also “have drawn the line” on proof-of-citizenship requirements, saying they will not accept a bill that imposes heavy documentation requirements on SCHIP applicants.

Lawmakers have also not fully addressed whether eligibility for SCHIP can be determined through enrollment in other government programs, such as school lunches or food stamps, and whether the SCHIP bill would change how states run their Medicaid programs, according to Congress Daily.

On Nov. 13, President Bush signed a continuing resolution to fund the current program until Dec. 14, which will allow lawmakers more time to settle their differences.