Governor M. Jodi Rell joined Connecticut Congressmen Joe Courtney, D-2, and Chris Murphy, D-5, last week in urging the White House and Congress to resolve a dispute over expansion the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), the source of federal funds Connecticut uses to help pay for the HUSKY program.

“Governor Rell has asked the Connecticut delegation to support SCHIP reauthorization and we have responded by overwhelmingly passing comprehensive legislation expanding coverage to ten million children. We now ask Governor Rell to use her position to speak to President Bush directly and urge him to end his veto threat, which would prevent millions of kids nationwide from obtaining health coverage,” Courtney said in a press release last week.

At issue is both the size of any funding increase – Congress is calling for an expansion of $35 billion, while President Bush has proposed a $5.5 billion funding increase – and the income levels at which families are eligible for coverage. Rell has repeatedly urged an agreement that will – at a minimum – hold Connecticut and the HUSKY plan harmless from funding cutbacks and related program constraints.

“It is also important to note that Connecticut’s plan covers children whose parents make up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, rather than the 250 percent level in most other states,” Rell noted n a press release last week. “This is because a family of four with an annual income of $50,000 or $60,000, for example, is far from wealthy in a state with our high cost of living.”

Both the U.S. House and Senate have passed a version of the bill that includes the $35 billion increase, which President Bush has said he will veto. If the bill is vetoed, Congress could pass an interim measure that would continue SCHIP at current levels until the impasse is ended.