Meanwhile five states (Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Wisconsin) cover parents and even childless adults. This gets expensive -- and quickly. In fact, the federal General Accountability Office says, in the 14 states that went over budget in 2005, more than half of the SCHIP recipients were adults. This in a program aimed at helping "the children."
Not surprisingly, Washington has been bailing out states that spend too much. Congress spent $283 million to paper over last year's "shortfall," and will almost certainly have to spend more this year. The House already voted to add $750 million in "emergency" SCHIP funds and the Senate will more than likely follow suit.
This needs to change. It's time to bring SCHIP back into line and keep it from turning into another entitlement funded on taxpayers' backs.
Congress created the program to help poor children, not to give states another excuse to shower "free" benefits on middle-class families. By bailing out those states that spend too much, Washington simply encourages more extravagant behavior.
States are aware how much they'll get in SCHIP funding each year, and they should plan to spend only that much or less. If they want to expand their programs and end up going over budget, they should be prepared to pick up the bill, not pass it on to the rest of us.