House SCHIP bill comes under fire

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As expected, House lawmakers unveiled a bill that would increase funding for a children's health insurance program, in part, through significant payment cutbacks to skilled nursing facilities and other long-term care providers.

The Children's Health and Medicare Protection Act of 2007 (CHAMP Act) would freeze Medicare payments in 2008 for nursing homes, home health agencies and long-term care hospitals, according to congressional aides. The $90 billion legislative package would provide $50 billion in funding over five years to the State Children's Health Insurance Program. It also would eliminate a scheduled Medicare payment cut to doctors.

Nursing home providers have expressed dissatisfaction with the bill. Facilities can ill afford cutbacks because of low operating margins, according to a statement from the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care. The bill could reach the House floor next week.

See the text of the bill at http://energycommerce.house.gov.