H.R. 3162, also known as the Children’s Health and Medicare Protection (CHAMP) Act was passed by the House August 2, 2007, by a vote of 225-204, with voting mostly going down party lines. The Senate companion bill (S. 6831) was also passed by the Senate the same night.
One of the main components of the CHAMP Act is the reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). SCHIP is a health insurance coverage program for low-income families jointly financed by the Federal and State governments. In 2006 SCHIP covered 6 million children.
The Senate and House bills differ in how many children it would cover and with the amount of funding for the SCHIP program. The Senate bill would cover 3.3 million more uninsured children, in addition to continuing coverage for the 6 million children already enrolled. The bill would provide $35 billion in new funding for SCHIP over 5 years, on top of the current $25 billion baseline. It would be paid for by a 61-cent per pack cigarette tax increase and increase in taxes on other tobacco products.
The House bill would extend coverage to 5.1 million children currently eligible for services but not receiving them, and continues coverage for the 6 million children currently enrolled. The bill would provide $50 billion in new funding for SCHIP over 5 years, on top of the current $25 billion baseline. It would be paid for by a 45-cent per pack cigarette tax increase and reduction in overpayments to Medicare Advantage (MA) plans.
The CHAMP Act would also provide important protections for seniors’ access to health care by replacing 15-percent Medicare physician payment cuts over the next two years with 0.5-percent updates in 2008 and 2009. If passed into law, the CHAMP Act will allow millions of children and seniors to maintain access to health care without disruption.
The American Medical Association has identified problems with the bill, notably the bill reduces payments for imaging, and is working with legislators to correct these issues. Congress has adjourned for the month of August, but another round of negotiations is expected once lawmakers return after Labor Day.
The AASM and AMA encourage all sleep medicine specialists to meet with their Congressmen and Senators during the August recess to secure their support of SCHIP and to get more details about how they will be addressing the cuts to Medicare physician payment.