The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Bush won’t let SCHIP sail


President Bush has announced plans to veto a bill that would provide increased funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. The bill, passed in the Senate and the House with bipartisan support, would provide health care for four million uninsured children.The State Children’s Health Insurance program, or SCHIP, provides health care for children whose parents make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private health insurance. The proposed expansion of the program would increase funding by $35 billion dollars over the next five years. Funds for the program would come from a 61-cent increase on the cigarette tax.

The Senate passed the proposal to expand the program 67 to 29. Eighteen Republicans and all of the Democrats voted in favor of the bill. John McCain and Barack Obama were among the four senators who did not vote.

“I think it’s really difficult to imagine how a president can say ‘No’ to a program that is seemingly 100 percent good, like health insurance for children,” said Assistant Professor of Political Science Kyle Dell, “but I think digging deeper and trying to understand why he’s saying ‘No’ is worth the investigation. I think that at least part of it is a principled argument against increased government involvement in health insurance and that comes from (Bush’s) deeper ideological beliefs.”

Bush has expressed fear that too many middle-class families will take advantage of the program’s expansion to convert from private and employer-provided health insurance to government-funded care. The congressional budget office estimated that roughly two million children currently covered by private health insurance would switch over to SCHIP if the program were expanded.

“Congressional leaders have put forward an irresponsible plan that would dramatically expand this program beyond its original intent,” Bush said in a public statement. “They know I will veto it. But it is good that they kept the program running while they try to work out a more responsible approach.”

Bush’s alternative proposal will designate $5 billion for the program, a mere fraction of the amount that Congress approved. Bush would also reduce eligibility for SCHIP so that only those who earn below $41,000 a year, for a family of four, would qualify.

According to the congressional budget office, maintaining the status quo would require at least a $14 billion dollar increase in funding over the next five years. With Bush’s proposed funds, three million children are expected to lose coverage if the cost of medical supplies continues to increase.

Opponents of the bill believe that Congress is making subtle advances towards universal health care.

“Democrats are counting down the hours, so they can tee up the election ads, saying Republicans don’t like kids,” Senator Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) said in a press release statement. “Meanwhile, they are using SCHIP as a Trojan horse to sneak government-run health care into the states.”

“This is no longer about children’s coverage; it’s a debate about the future of the health-care system,” Nina Owcharenko, a policy analyst at Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, said to the Chicago Tribune.

Proponents of the bill point to the fact that Bush expanded Medicare in 2003, shelling out $720 billion over 10 years to subsidize prescription drugs for senior citizens. The proposed expansion of SCHIP is a far less expensive undertaking.

“Clearly, there is a crass political calculation that seniors vote and children don’t,” executive director of Health Access, Anthony Wright, said to the Union Tribune.
SCHIP is a 10-year old program that currently provides health care to six million children across the United States. It covers regular check-ups, immunizations, prescription medications, lab tests, x-rays and hospital visits.

The program expired on Sept. 30, but current levels of funding will continue through November.

Jim Bunning, a senator from Kentucky, a state which relies heavily on its tobacco industry, is among the critics of the bill, partially on the basis that the bill would cause a one dollar per pack excise tax, which would undoubtedly cause cigarette sales to drop.
“(The bill) redistributes income from low-income smokers to states with the highest per-capita incomes,” Bunning said. “It could be called Robin hood in reverse,”
If Bush vetoes this bill, it will be the third veto of his presidency.

Many fellow Republicans have been vocally critical of his stance on this issue. Even members of the senate who are typically allied with Bush like Christopher S. Bond (Missouri), Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas) and Ted Stevens (Alaska) voted in support of the bill.

“It’s very difficult for me to be against a man I care so much for,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) said in a public statement. “It’s unfortunate that the president has chosen to be on what, to me, is clearly the wrong side of his issue.”

SCHIP has the support of Democrats, many moderate and conservative Republicans, the Roman Catholic Church, the health insurance industry, most U.S. governors, and the American Medical Association.

Even if Bush can successfully veto the bill without being overridden, with such a great amount of bipartisan support, it is likely that Bush will face the bill again in another six months.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said, “If the president refuses to sign the bill, if he says, with a veto, ‘I forbid 10 million children in America to have health care,’ this legislation will haunt him again and again and again.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Guilfordian intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks, or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and must be approved by a moderator to ensure that they meet these standards. The Guilfordian does not allow anonymous comments, and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All The Guilfordian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *