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May 2008

CMS Testifies At Least Nine States Will Meet Revised SCHIP Eligibility Guidelines

Speaking before the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health, Dennis Smith, director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Center for Medicaid and State Operations, testified in response to recent criticism of a CMS directive, dated August 17, 2007, that limits the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). According to Smith, at least nine of the 17 states offering SCHIP coverage to children of families above 250 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) will be able to meet directive’s eligibility guidelines, which have a posed a significant challenge to state efforts to expand SHCIP beyond 200 percent FPL.

Smith testified that the guidelines are intended to ensure maximum enrollment of children below the 200 percent FPL mark and minimize “crowd out” of private insurance coverage. Director Smith’s testimony received a mixed response from the subcommittee, with criticism from Chairman John Rockefeller (D-WV) and other subcommittee Democrats. Senator Rockefeller has introduced a bill, S. 2819, which seeks to overturn the guidelines outlined in the August directive, but the bill has yet to move through the Senate. To view the full hearing, click here. (requires RealPlayer) 

The Center for Children and Families based at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute has produced a summary of the directive’s impact on state efforts.