According to documents released Wednesday, as well as the legislation itself, no families that make $83,000 would be eligible for the program. In fact, New York is the only state that has asked the Bush administration for a waiver to extend State Children's Health Insurance Program benefits to families making that much money, and the White House denied the request. The bill now being debated would not change that, and it would only allow federal matching funds for families of four making about $62,000 a year, or 300 percent of poverty level.
"This bill doesn't change income eligibility limits," said Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the Senate Finance Committee chairman.
The legislation also explicitly bans illegal immigrants from receiving SCHIP benefits. Republicans have said the program could allow people here illegally to win coverage, but section 605 of the bill says "nothing in this act allows federal payment for individuals who are not legal residents." Republicans counter that they are most concerned about illegal immigrants using fake social security numbers to gain coverage.
These points will continue to be debated right up to the Thursday SCHIP veto override vote, scheduled for noon in the House.