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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Bush Vetoes SCHIP

[Update] 10/18/07- The President's Veto is upheld.

President Bush in his fourth veto since taking presidency, has vetoed the SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program)bill as he said he would multiple times.

WASHINGTON - President Bush, in a sharp confrontation with Congress, on Wednesday vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have dramatically expanded children's health insurance.

It was only the fourth veto of Bush's presidency, and one that some Republicans feared could carry steep risks for their party in next year's elections. The Senate approved the bill with enough votes to override the veto, but the margin in the House fell short of the required number.


The president had promised to veto it, saying the Democratic bill was too costly, took the program too far from its original intent of helping the poor, and would entice people now covered in the private sector to switch to government coverage. He wants only a $5 billion increase in funding.

From Captain's Quarters because no matter how I try, my explanation takes two pages and Ed, as usual, can say everything I am trying to in a few short paragraphs.

Let's underscore that last sentence. Bush doesn't want to end S-CHIP, nor does he want to freeze its funding level. He wanted to increase funding to the program, but Democrats wanted to increase it seven times more than Bush's proposal -- and they wanted to slap a highly regressive tax onto the public to fund it. In effect, the Democrats wanted to take money from the poor to subsidize health insurance for middle-class children.

The Senate barely mustered a veto-proof this legislation, 67-29. Mitch McConnell and Trent Lott will start talking with the Republicans who went in favor of the expansion in the last round. The HillaryCare memo that strategized the targeting of children as a Trojan horse for nationalized health care will undoubtedly play a large role in the argument. The GOP has an alternative of tax incentives and breaks for middle-class families without health insurance to level the playing field against those who get tax-protected health plans from their employees, a proposal that came too late in the game to affect the voting last time. All they need to do is switch two votes away from the expansion.

The House, however, will be the center of attention. The original vote came up short of a veto-proof majority, and they will be the first chamber to vote on the veto. Marsha Blackburn just told a blogger conference call that she believes the GOP can "comfortably" sustain the veto....

The bottom line here is the original bill was always meant to cover children from families that cannot afford private healthcare and the bill that was just vetoed would have allowed some families that can and do afford private healthcare to place their children on state funded healthcare.

From Trent Lott:

Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss., said Congress should be able to reach a compromise with Bush once he vetoes the bill. "We should not allow it to be expanded to higher and higher income levels, and to adults. This is about poor children," he said. "But we can work it out."

From Power Line:

President Bush has vetoed the SCHIP legislation passed by Congress. Currently, SCHIP is a targeted program that provides health insurance for children of low income families. However, the legislation Bush just vetoed would expand the program by providing it to children in middle class families. In the process, the legislation would increasingly substitute government programs and taxpayer dollars for private coverage and funding. That, of course, is the Democrats' goal -- to develop a middle class health care entitlement program as a precursor to a government takeover of health care. In the process, though, the new SCHIP legislation would basically double the cost of covering an uninsured child.

The SCHIP bill (H.R. 976) can be found here.

The Republicans in Congress have the votes to sustain the veto, then perhaps they can get a bill to the President's desk that does what it is supposed to do and cover children only, and those from families that cannot afford private coverage only.

Just as interesting though is the Democrats phenomenal ability to shoot themselves in the head, yet again.

As they were trying to distract focus over their inability to change the course of the progress and success we are seeing in Iraq, to the SCHIP issue, David Obey managed to work against their purpose with a proposal that was shot down immediately by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, by publicly announcing that he wanted to create a war tax.

That issue was shot down by his own party leaders within four hours, but he did take the focus off the SCHIP all day yesterday and put it right back on Iraq and their inability to force defeat down our throats.

From The Hill:

Democratic leaders on Tuesday moved quickly to shift public attention to President Bush’s expected veto of a children’s health insurance program from a surtax to pay for the war in Iraq.

Democrats had been reveling in their good fortune, believing they had a winning issue in legislation to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which Bush is expected to veto Wednesday.

But three senior Democrats floated a proposal to impose a surtax, a levy on a percentage of citizens’ tax bills, to fund the war in Iraq.

Republicans pounced to criticize the plan while Democratic leaders did their best to appear undeterred by the bump in the road.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) shot down the idea Tuesday afternoon. At two press conferences, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) reiterated that the proposal was “not a Democratic, not a party proposal.”

“It’s hard to believe you could pick a worse time to do something to divide the caucus than the day Democrats and Republicans come together on both an Iraq bill and in sending the children’s health bill to the president,” a Democratic leadership aide said. “The timing of this announcement made no sense.”

Back to SCHIP and the President's veto, politicians will continue to try to misrepresent the President's intentions, so lets get the Myth vs Fact out of the way right now:

MYTH #1: President Bush's proposal would not help poor children.

  • FACT: The President strongly supports SCHIP reauthorization and his 2008 budget proposed to increase SCHIP funding by $5 billion over five years. This is a 20 percent increase over current levels of funding.
  • FACT: The President's proposal maintains SCHIP's original purpose of targeting dollars to poor children who need them most.

MYTH #2: Cost is the only reason for President Bush's veto threat.

  • FACT: There are numerous problems with Congress's SCHIP bill. In addition to raising spending by $35 to $50 billion, the legislation:
  1. Turns a program meant to help poor children into one that covers children in some households with incomes of up to $83,000 a year.
  1. Would move millions of American children who now have private health insurance into government-run health care.
  1. Is an incremental step toward the Democrats' goal of a government-run health care system.
  1. Raises taxes on working Americans.
  1. Relies on a budget gimmick that drops SCHIP funding by almost 80 percent in year six, masking future deficits and ultimately resulting in a choice between higher taxes or forcing millions of children to lose health insurance.
  1. Creates new funding schemes inviting states to overspend their budgets and shift health care costs to the Federal government by using SCHIP funding to offset state Medicaid spending.
  1. Provides incentives to states to relax protections against enrolling ineligible individuals, including illegal immigrants.

MYTH #3: President Bush is wrong in claiming the Senate SCHIP bill would cover children in some households with incomes of up to $83,000 per year (400 percent of the Federal poverty level).

  • FACT: The Senate bill grandfathers in New York at a higher SCHIP match rate than the rest of the country – allowing SCHIP to cover children in some households with incomes of up to $83,000 per year.

Background Information:

  • Sens. Clinton and Schumer: "New York State's planned CHIP expansion would have covered children up to 400 percent of the national poverty level." (Sen. Hillary Clinton, Press Release, "Clinton, Schumer Blast Federal Rejection Of New York's Attempts To Increase Health Coverage For Children," 9/7/07)
  • The Federal Poverty Level for a family of four is $20,650. Four hundred percent of $20,650 is $82,600. ("The 2007 HHS Poverty Guidelines," Accessed 9/20/07, Available At:
  • The Senate bill states: "(B) - Exception - Subparagraph (A) [the limitation of the matching rate to the Medicaid rate for children whose effective income exceeds 300 percent of the Federal poverty level] shall not apply to any State that, on the date of enactment of the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007, has an approved State Plan Amendment or waiver to provide, or has enacted a State law to submit a State plan amendment to provide, expenditures described in such subparagraph under the State child health plan."
  • New York enacted a state law to submit a "State plan amendment." While that amendment was disapproved, the language of the Senate bill would still allow New York to claim the enhanced match if approved by a different Administration in the future.
  • FACT: The Senate SCHIP bill also grandfathers in New Jersey's program at 350 percent of the Federal poverty level, which includes children in families with incomes of $72,000 a year.
  • Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ): "Corzine added that the state, which covers about 122,000 kids in its program, known as FamilyCare, 'will continue to provide health care to children in families with income up to 350 percent' of the federal poverty level – or $72,275 for a family of four. He also wrote that he is prepared to file a lawsuit challenging the new rules." (Christopher Lee, "N.J.'s Corzine to Defy New Health-Care Rules," The Washington Post, 9/14/07)

MYTH #4: Democrats are not seeking a political victory by passing a bill they know will be vetoed.

  • FACT: House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL): "If he vetoes the bill, it's a political victory for us." (Robert Pear, "Veto Risk Seen In Compromise On Child Health," The New York Times, 9/17/07)
  • FACT: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD): "With a bill on its way to the president's desk by the end of next week, Democrats will be safe in blaming the White House for allowing the program to expire, according to House Majority Leader Hoyer." (Fawn Johnson, "Negotiators Strike SCHIP Deal, Agree To Slightly Modified Senate Measure," National Journal's CongressDaily, 9/19/07)
  • FACT: House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark (D-CA): "The Medicare and Medicaid portions of CHAMP have been abandoned for rhetorical and/or political reasons that are unclear to me." (Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), Dear Democratic Colleague Letter, 9/20/07)

MYTH #5: President Bush will be responsible if SCHIP is not reauthorized by September 30.

  • FACT: Congress is irresponsibly waiting until just before SCHIP expires on September 30 to pass a final bill they know will be vetoed. Democrats have known for months that President Bush would veto a bill like the one they intend to send him.
  • FACT: One of the Democrats' leaders has even said such a veto would be a "political victory." Members of Congress are putting health coverage for poor children at risk just so they can score political points in Washington.
  • FACT: President Bush has called on Congress to pass a clean, temporary extension of the current SCHIP program that he can sign by September 30. The President does not believe health coverage for poor children should be held hostage while political ads are being made and new polls are being taken.
  • FACT: The President has instructed HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt to work with states to mitigate the resulting damage if Congress allows SCHIP to lapse.

You can find the reactions to this at memeorandum and see for yourself how many will try to perpetuate the myths and completely ignore the facts.

Tracked back by:
Bush Vetoes SCHIP: Sweet! from Health Care BS...

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