The Battle Goes On
On Wednesday President Bush vetoed SCHIP, on Saturday, in his weekly radio address, he indicated a willingness to compromise on the bill, in the so-called compromise he proposed stringent rules that would strangle the program. He once again attempted to make the case that he believes the spending increase called for in the bill is a step toward the goal of Democrats to advance government-run health care for every American. "Government-run health care would deprive Americans of the choice that comes from the private market," he said "It would cause huge increases in government spending. Representative Steny Hoyer, D-Md pointed out in the Democrats radio address, Saturday, that "while the government does heavily subsidize the health coverage offered through the program, most SCHIP beneficiaries get coverage through private insurers who contract with states. The truth is, America’s largest private insurance lobbying group supports this bill - as do America’s doctors, nurses, children’s advocates and, most importantly, 72 percent of Americans.
In an editorial in the New York Times on Friday, October 5, 2007, Misleading Spin on Children’s Health, the Times said in "Trying to justify his ideological driven veto of a bill to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, President Bush and his staff have fired a barrage of misinformation about this valuable program. The editorial goes on to say that the bill primarily reflects a Senate version that was drafted with great care by key members of both parties. It embodies principles that would normally appeal to many conservatives. S-chip is not an entitlement program like Medicare or Medicaid. Instead, it provides block grants to the states, which can curtail enrollment if funds run out .Nor is S-chip permanent. It will need to be reauthorized again in five years, at which time some future Congress and president will be free to have another slugfest. The White House declined overtures to join in consultations while the bill was being framed, according to Senator Charles Grassley, a Republican sponsor. Like so many other things that Mr. Bush has gotten disastrously wrong, he’d already made up his mind and had no interest in listening to others’ arguments.
Now it is up to Congress to show Mr. Bush that such blind partisanship will not be rewarded. For the sake of America’s children, lawmakers must override the veto."
Additionally, eight states plan to press President Bush on the SCHIP bill by filing suit challenging stricter eligibility rules for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. The bipartisan bill, SCHIP would loosen those rules and increase federal funds for SCHIP while expanding coverage to 10 million children from the 6.6 million covered now. Governor Eliot Spitzer of New York announced plans for the suit on Tuesday, October 2, 2007 when it became apparent that President Bush would go ahead with the veto, wich he did on Wednesday.
In their legal challenges, the eight states contend that the new eligibility rules, which went into effect in August will either force out children in the program or leave tens of thousands without coverage who would be eligible. "Despite every effort to negotiate in good faith, the Bush administration did nothing but put roadblocks and poison pills in our path," Gov. Spitzer said, "the president was out of touch with the reality on the ground." Mr. Spitzer has argued that the new rules violate the intent of the federal law that created the children’s insurance program in 1997.
Jeff Nelligan, a spokesman for the federal centers for Medicare and Medicaid , which administers SCHIP, issued a statement saying," We are confident that our requirements are appropriate and will be sustained in a court of law."
If not enough Republicans stand up to Bush to overturn the veto, the Democrats have promised to keep sending the bill to Bush, each time increasing the pressure on vulnerable Republicans to support health care for our kids. The objective of these battles is to set the stage for the philosophical question of whether or not we should make sure everyone gets healthcare and will set the stage for the broader fights to come.
1."Bush willing to work on SCHIP", Kevin Freking, Associated Press, October 7,2007
2, "Misleading Spin on Children’s Health", Editorial, The New York Times, October 5, 2007
3. "8 States Plan to Press Bush on Health Plan", The New York Times, October 2, 2007
4. "Bush makes Good on His Promise to Veto", Kenneth Briggs, OpEdNews, October 3 , 2007