As the time approaches for President Bush to veto the current SCHIP legislation, as he has repeatedly promised, the adversarial nature of the debate is turning litigious. Tom Hester at Newsday reports:
New Jersey on Monday joined seven states in filing separate lawsuits against the Bush administration's challenge of proposed federal rules the states say will force poor children to lose health coverage.
The lawsuit for New Jersey was filed Monday morning in federal court in Trenton, state Attorney General Anne Milgram said. New Jersey joins Maryland, Arizona, California, Illinois, New Hampshire, New York and Washington in filing similar litigation.
"The Bush administration has gone beyond its regulatory rights," New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine said as he announced the lawsuit at an East Orange health center.
At the core of the conflict are rules issued by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services which the suits claim exceed the statutory authority set forth in Title XXI of the Social Security Act. The SCHIP legislation currently facing veto would remove these new strictures. What new strictures, you ask? Ralph Thomas at the Seattle Times brings us the following clarification:
Under the restrictions, before states can start enrolling kids above 250 percent of the poverty level, they must make sure they are covering at least 95 percent of kids at or below 200 percent of the poverty level.
[Washington State Governor] Gregoire said no state has been able to reach that mark. She said Washington has one of the nation's highest coverage rates, at about 91 percent.
"We just do not believe that is achievable and in fact was put in place to guarantee that we couldn't go above 250 percent of poverty," she said.
The restrictions also require new enrollees above 250 percent of the poverty level to go a year without insurance before they could enroll in SCHIP.
These strictures are being cast as beyond the legal limitations on federal power, and more states continue to bring suit agaisnt them.
"The federal government lacks the authority to do what it is trying to do," [NJ Attorney General] Milgram said, adding that New Jersey's plan has been approved eight times, including five times by the Bush administration.
[New Jersey Gov. Jon S.] Corzine has said the rules could risk health insurance coverage for 10,000 New Jersey poor children.
SOURCE: "8 States Sue Bush Over Children's Health Insurance" 10/01/07
SOURCE: "State to Sue Feds Over Childrens Health Insurance" 10/02/07
photo courtesy of Scott Ableman