News Release

Bush Threat to Veto Health Insurance for Children


President Bush has announced that he would veto any expansion in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides health insurance for children in low-income families. Congress will be considering legislation to renew or expand funding for the program this week.

On Monday, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote: “When a child is enrolled in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (Schip), the positive results can be dramatic. For example, after asthmatic children are enrolled in Schip, the frequency of their attacks declines on average by 60 percent, and their likelihood of being hospitalized for the condition declines more than 70 percent. … According to a recent Georgetown University poll, 9 in 10 Americans — including 83 percent of self-identified Republicans — support an expansion of the children’s health insurance program.”

Edelman is the president of Children’s Defense Fund. She said today: “Congress made a bipartisan commitment to provide $50 billion to expand and improve Schip. … But too many children will continue to be left behind. The richest nation on earth can afford to cover all of its children. While the Chairman’s package allows states to make important program improvements including coverage for pregnant women and express-lane eligibility, neither the Committee mark nor the Senate Finance Committee package provide the needed national safety net and level playing field for all children. Children’s survival should not be dependent on the lottery of geography. ”
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Ron Pollack is the executive director of Families USA. (He is available for a limited number of interviews.) Geraldine Henrich-Koenis is the deputy director of communications and Robert Meissner is the press secretary for Families USA. Pollack said today: “The [current] proposal provides $35 billion in new Schip funding over the next five years. Although this is a good start, that amount is well short of the budget resolution’s $50 billion, and it will still leave millions of children uninsured. … It was only three years ago when the president pledged to the American people that he would lead the way in enrolling millions of additional eligible children in the Schip program. Unbelievably, the president is now threatening to veto this critical legislation.”
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Director of the group Essential Action, Weissman said today: “Last week, the Senate Finance Committee, by a 17-4 vote, approved a reauthorization of Schip that would enable the program to cover an additional 4 million children without insurance. Most of these children — 85 percent — would already be eligible under existing standards, but would not be covered for lack of funds. The Senate proposal is funded by a 61-cent-a-pack cigarette tax increase, which would have health benefits of its own: deterring almost 2 million children from taking up smoking, encouraging more than a million adult smokers to quit.”

Weissman added: “Schip is now up for reauthorization. Because of medical inflation, the program needs more money to provide insurance to the same number of kids. Because the program has been a clear winner, members of Congress from both parties want to provide this needed funding, and to expand the program further. But President Bush says no. He has a ‘philosophical’ objection to expanding Schip. … Will Bush veto Schip expansion? Will enough Republicans break from the administration to override (or prevent) a veto? That depends on how loudly the public insists its elected officials choose healthcare for kids over twisted philosophies.”
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For more information, contact the Institute for Public Accuracy at (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan at (541) 484-9167.