Wednesday, October 03, 2007

When the SCHIPs are Down

It is a sad day for poor, uninsured children in America. President Bush used his veto powers to veto a bipartisan bill passed by both houses of Congress which would have expanded health insurance for over 10 million uninsured children whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private insurance on their own. Bush cited the notion that the expanded program might---gasp!---lead to something akin to soclialized medicine, an event which all Americans know will certainly lead to the fall of Western Civilization as we know it (one can only hope!).

According to NPR and their Congressional sources, the President has it all backwards. SCHIP is not at all a government-run health insurance program. Rather, it allows families who earn up to 300 percent of the poverty level to receive government assistance in purchasing private health insurance for their children. Contrary to the President's admonition that it would remove individual choice from the equation, these families would choose from competing private plans. As for New York's attempt to increase the income level to four times the federal poverty level, that addition was scrapped.

Interestingly, the bill was negotiated largely by Republicans in an effort to assuage Bush's anticipated complaints, and many Republicans now face the decision to choose to override a presidential veto for an issue which is popular in both houses of Congress, in both political parties, backed by 43 governors, and among a majority of Americans.

As stated in the San Fransisco Chronicle today,

The timing of the veto sets up an unenviable comparison for the White House. The president just sent a request to Congress for $189 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan next year. By contrast, the expanded children's health program would cost $60 billion over five years.

"While he continues to demand billions to fund his flawed war policies, he is telling the most vulnerable segment of our society that there just isn't enough money for them to have adequate health care," said Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Walnut Creek.

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