Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Democrats Pushing to Vote on New SCHIP Bill This Week--Bush Starting to Give

Democratic attempts to modify the SCHIP bill just enough to pick off the seven more Republicans they need are intensifying.

The House failed to override Bush's veto by 13 votes last week.

Yesterday, Bush's lead person on the SCHIP issue, HHS Secretary Leavitt, said the administration is now willing to consider covering kids up to 300% of poverty--they had said they would not go above 200%. Leavitt also said that would likely mean another $20 billion in spending--Bush had offered only $5 billion at the start.

But the Democrats, smelling blood in the water, are holding at $35 billion in additional spending and the full 61 cent tobacco tax to pay for it.

Leavitt also said that the administration still opposes new taxes and that states need to cover kids below 200% of poverty before moving past that point to 300% of poverty.

Now the pressure is on for Democratic House leaders to find those other seven Republican votes. If they get them, anything Bush and Leavitt are offering is moot.

If Bush had offered this a month ago, he'd probably have had a deal and avoided a very unpopular political decision.

If the Democrats find the votes, it is going to put them on one heck of a roll as we head into budget season. That could be really good news for the doctors worried about that 10% Medicare physician fee cut and bad news for the health plans worried they are going to pay for it out of their Medicare Advantage payments.
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