View Full Version : Bush Using SCHIP Reauthorization Debate To Push Tax Revisions, Grassley Says

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09-30-2007, 01:48 PM
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Monday said that President Bush is threatening to veto the SCHIP compromise bill in order to force revisions to the tax code that would provide deductions to individuals who purchase private insurance, the Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/24/AR2007092401562.html) reports. Grassley said -- and White House aides agreed -- that Bush's opposition to SCHIP does not result from the cost of the bill but rather from larger health policy issues, according to the Post (Weisman/Lee, Washington Post, 9/25). '

The compromise bill, which resembles the Senate version of SCHIP legislation, would provide an additional $35 billion in funding over the next five years and bring total spending on the program to $60 billion. The additional funding would be paid for by a 61-cent-per-pack increase in the tobacco tax, as proposed in the Senate version. The compromise legislation does not include revisions to Medicare. The House could vote on the measure as early as Tuesday, with the Senate expected to vote on the measure later this week (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report (http://www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/rep_index.cfm?DR_ID=47695), 9/24).

Grassley said that Bush's desire to pass the tax revisions is commendable but that the revisions can no longer feasibly be linked to SCHIP. Grassley, speaking of a conversation with Bush on Thursday, said that Bush "has a goal that I share, that we need to take care of the uninsured through private health insurance," but "you can't put that on this bill." Grassley said he was surprised to hear Bush discuss larger health care issues during the conversation because Grassley had discussed linking an SCHIP extension with larger health care reform in the spring with HHS (http://www.hhs.gov/) Secretary Mike Leavitt, White House National Economic Council (http://www.whitehouse.gov/nec/) Director Al Hubbard and Hubbard's deputy, Keith Hennessey.

Grassley endorsed the approach and encouraged the administration to garner Democratic support. However, when the White House made no effort to do so, Grassley in April decided that the SCHIP reauthorization would proceed without larger reforms (Washington Post, 9/25).