SCHIP passes House; lifts five year waiting period for legal immigrants; can be abused by illegal aliens; anchor baby provision
The Democrats are trying to give Barack Obama an early signature accomplishment of sorts by pushing the SCHIP (H.R.2, S-CHIP, State Childrens' Health Insurance Program, link). It just passed the House; a Senate version will apparently be debated tomorrow in the Senate Finance Committee; it will probably reach Obama's desk in one form or another.
Previously, legal immigrants weren't able to access Medicaid or SCHIP until after five years; the bill leaves it up to states whether they want to lift that or not. And, it raises funds by increasing cigarette taxes by 61 cents per pack. Other impacts are described here, here, here (opposed), and here (supported).
Looking at what's at thomas.loc.gov now (which might not be the final version), it looks like this program could be abused by illegal aliens. Benefit seekers can simply provide a social security number and a name, and if they don't match they're given a period within which to correct any errors (see Section 211). If more than 3% of the applicants for a state don't eventually match up, the state has to put a more stringent plan into place and supposedly refund some money. And, eventually some of that might happen, or it might not.
And, it also continues an anchor baby provision:
Nothing in subparagraph (A) or (B) of section 1902(a)(46), the preceding paragraphs of this subsection, or the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, including section 6036 of such Act, shall be construed as changing the requirement of section 1902(e)(4) that a child born in the United States to an alien mother for whom medical assistance for the delivery of such child is available as treatment of an emergency medical condition pursuant to subsection (v) shall be deemed eligible for medical assistance during the first year of such child's life.'
UPDATE: Kaiser has some more here. And, over at dailykos.com/story/2009/1/14/171542/854/363/684088, a commenter says:
What a bunch of hypocrites. After getting elected on the backs of low-income Americans, and promising them they would only raise taxes on the rich, the Dems first act in office is to impose a tax increase on the demographic of Americans who can least afford it. The average household income of smokers is $30,000 per year....and now they're forced to single-handedly finance health care for 24-year-olds from families earning $60,000 per year. How progressive!