Thursday, October 04, 2007

Call to Override Bush's Veto of SCHIP Bill

The following issue update was distributed by the Washington Bureau of the NAACP:
On October 3, 2007, President Bush vetoed legislation expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) by $35 billion over the next five years. This expansion, which enjoyed bi-partisan support in both the House and the Senate, as well as among groups as diverse as the NAACP and industry groups representing insurers (the American Health Insurance Plans, or AHIP) and doctors (the American Medical Association) would have covered not only the 6 million children already enrolled in SCHIP, but would have allowed almost 6 million more American children to benefit from the program.

Since 1997, SCHIP has significantly improved American children's access to health care, and has made significant strides in covering racial and ethnic minority children. Initially SCHIP provided $40 billion to states to provide health care coverage to children who lived in families that earned too much to qualify for Medicare but too little to afford private health insurance. Since its adoption, SCHIP has reduced dramatically (by a third) the number of America's uninsured children. Racial and ethnic minority children have especially benefited from this program; since 1997, the rate of uninsured African American children dropped by almost half; from 20% to 12%; the rate of uninsured Asian and Pacific Islander children has also been cut in half, from 17% to 8%. The rate of uninsured Latino children has gone from 30% to 21%. Because of SCHIP, approximately 6 million children currently have access to vital health care services including screening and prevention services that help them stay healthy and grow to be strong and productive adults.

Despite these successes, there is still work to be done. Nine million children in our nation remain uninsured today; more than 5 million of them are racial or ethnic minorities. Nearly three-quarters of them are eligible for either Medicare or SCHIP, yet they are not enrolled in either program. While enough Senators supported the final version of the bill (67), the House of Representatives fell about 20 votes short of a veto-proof margin (two thirds of those voting, or 289 if all Members are present are needed to override a veto), passing it 265 – 159. Thus we need to encourage all Americans to contact their elected Senators and Representatives as soon as possible and ask them to vote to override the President's veto of this important program.

The Democratic Party has also issued a call to Congress to override Bush's veto:
George Bush made a cold political calculation this morning. He could have signed this bi-partisan bill into law, or he could have pandered to conservatives who didn't want to see the Children's Health Insurance Program get the funding it needs.

He decided to pander -- and millions of kids will suffer for it.

What makes this veto worse is that George Bush will spend billions of dollars in Iraq, some of it on contractors like Blackwater and Halliburton, while denying millions of children needed doctors' visits or medicine here at home.

On top of that, all of the Republican candidates for president support his veto.

Democrats are in the majority for a reason. Send a message to your Senators and Representative and let them know why that is:

plez sez: once again, The Great Decider, has made a decision which will affect millions of children nationwide. George Bush has continued to run this country as The Great Divider, choosing politics over children... and this time, even defying a bipartisan approach to a real problem.

by vetoing the SCHIP bill, Bush has threatened funding of the Georgia insurance plan (Peachcare for Kids). the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (here and here)that there are 265,000 children in Georgia who participate in Peachcare for Kids and there are another 300,000 children in the state with no health insurance of any kind. George Bush talked of middle-class and rich families benefiting from the insurance; in Georgia, the maximum yearly income for a family of four to qualify is less than $49,000 - definitely on the low side of the middle class!

Georgia had to freeze enrollment in Peachcare for Kids in March for four months when the federal money initially ran out (until Congress approved more money for the program), and now it risks being shut down completely at the end of November.
PeachCare for Kids is Georgia's version of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). It covers children whose families make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private insurance. Congress passed a resolution to continue funding the national program through mid-November. Georgia officials say that if Congress and the president can't reach an agreement by then, PeachCare will run out of federal money and cease to exist by the end of that month.

so this country is fine with spending BILLIONS of dollars per month on war that kills thousands and destroys families, a war where services vendors can overcharge the US government by MILLIONS on no-bid contracts, but will let the "least of these" - our children - go without health insurance? all this over a 61-cent increase in tax on a pack of cigarettes! it would be unconscionable if Congress were to let Bush's veto stand... they must override the veto of SCHIP!

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