SCHIP passes, with a catch

Leave it to Congress to turn a debate over health insurance into a horse-race-style betting match. House Democrats pushed through a $50 billion increase in funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program, effectively expanding the program to millions of children who fall into the cracks between Medicaid eligibility and insurance affordability. So far, so good.

The catch (according to House Republicans): Paying for the measure requires a cut in payments to private Medicare insurers. Democrats call the funding cut a necessity to reduce "excessive subsidies" to those private insurers--and they point to the fact that they reversed a reduction in Medicare payments to physicians, giving docs a slight increase instead. Co-payments for seniors' preventive care were eliminated, too. With healthcare looming as a key issue in the 2008 campaign, expect to hear both sides arguing that they're the true friends of (fill in the blank: seniors, children, all of the above).

- read the Wall Street Journal report (sub. req.)