Child Insurance Gains, but a Veto Won’t Be Overridden
Posted on Sep 25, 2007
The House has passed an expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program but failed to win enough votes to override President Bush’s promised veto. Still, SCHIP has overwhelming public support, and Democrats welcomed the opportunity to force Bush and his congressional allies to take a stand against poor children.
The president, while asking for hundreds of billions to keep the war running for another year, maintains that the $35-billion SCHIP program, financed in part by a tobacco tax hike, would be too expensive.
Bush’s veto pledge gives the lackluster Democrats some bonus ammunition heading into the next election. As Rep. Charlie Rangel said, “the question is, were you with the kids or were you not?”
SCHIP is a state-federal program that provides coverage for 6.6 million children from families that live above the poverty level but have trouble affording private health insurance. The proposed expansion, backed by most governors and many health-advocacy groups, would add 4 million children to the rolls.
The bill drew support from 45 House Republicans, many of them moderates who do not want to be depicted as indifferent to low-income children’s health needs when they seek re-election next year. But 151 Republicans sided with Bush, a move that Democrats see as a political blunder.
It hardly matters that the expansion would be expensive or a step toward socialized health care, Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said during the House debate. When lawmakers go home, he said, “the question is, Were you with the kids or were you not?”