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News Roundup: Health Care Battle

The bipartisan effort to reauthorize and expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) is moving forward despite the roadblocks ahead. The White House has promised a veto, and the Republicans in the House have promised to stand united against the proposal, but the House Energy and Commerce Committee is planning to mark up the legislation today, and the House Ways and Means Committee is expected to mark up the legislation on Thursday, foreshadowing the battle that lies ahead.

The Press is weighing in on the issue (h/t KaiserNetwork.org):

    Related Coverage
  • Gannett/Asbury Park Press: Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) "are on the frontlines of a political fight between Congress and the White House over the future" of SCHIP, Gannett/Park Press reports. Pallone, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, is helping to draft the House SCHIP legislation, and Menendez is "working to create a large-enough coalition to block [President] Bush's proposals and possibly override a veto,"...
  • Kansas City Star: "Cutting off health care for six million kids is something no politician would seriously consider," and as a result, a "ticklish bidding effort is under way to find enough votes to increase SCHIP without triggering a Bush veto or Senate filibuster,"...

  • Mike King, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: President Bush has threatened to veto legislation that would reauthorize and expand SCHIP, an action that "says a lot about the dismal record his administration will leave on domestic policy issues," King, a member of the Journal-Constitution editorial board, writes in an opinion piece. According to King, Bush "offers no viable alternative for expanding health insurance coverage for the millions of American children without it -- short of his questionable scheme to encourage families to create tax-free, health care savings accounts to pay their medical bills" -- an indication that he "doesn't have a clue about what's happening to middle-income families." King concludes, "It is long past time for the country to make health insurance available to every child, just as we have to every elderly citizen."
  • Dallas Morning News: House and Senate versions of bills to reauthorize and expand SCHIP "do signal excess, more than doubling ... spending" for the program, but Bush should "come off his veto threat and realize that a more gradual expansion" would help families and reduce the number of uninsured U.S. residents, according to a Morning News editorial. The editorial concludes, "The answer is for Congress to come down on its price tag, governors to step in and President Bush to back off his veto threat. Washington could then avoid a meltdown, control spending and help families".
  • Houston Chronicle: "Expanding SCHIP is a stopgap measure that would expand the number of Americans with access to health care," according to a Chronicle editorial. Bush has threatened to veto legislation that would reauthorize and expand SCHIP because of concerns that "expanding the program would undermine the insurance industry," but "having more children insured would lower costs passed on to private insurers and employers."
  • Las Vegas Review-Journal: House and Senate versions of bills to reauthorize and expand SCHIP amount "to not only a major tax hike, but another baby step toward the Democratic dream of a government takeover of our health care system," according to a Review-Journal editorial. SCHIP "isn't about 'the children,' at all," the editorial states, adding, "If it were, the focus would be on making sure that eligibility for SCHIP was confined to uninsured kids whose parents were barely scraping by yet weren't eligible for other federal assistance."
  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: A Bush veto of legislation that would reauthorize and expand SCHIP "would be a huge mistake, one that would have financial ramifications for Wisconsin and health implications for its children," according to a Journal Sentinel editorial. The editorial states, "The president said the legislation would lead to a massive expansion of the federal role in health care, which he says will lead to 'less quality care and rationing over time.'" The editorial concludes, "We don't buy that tired, anti-government rhetoric, and neither should the public, especially when it comes to health care for children."

    Broadcast Coverage
  • NPR's "Tell Me More" on Monday included a discussion with NPR health policy correspondent Julie Rovner about SCHIP legislation (Martin [1], "Tell Me More," NPR, 7/23). Audio of the segment is available online. The program also included a discussion with William Galston, a health policy adviser under former President Clinton, about efforts to expand health insurance for children (Martin [2], "Tell Me More," NPR, 7/23). Audio of the segment is available online.

In the 15 years since the Clintons' efforts to reform health care the cost of health insurance has risen, health care costs have soared, and employers are paying smaller and smaller shares of the cost of health insurance -- increasing the tremendous burden on citizens.

The bipartisan nature of this legislation shows the issue transcends politics. Instead of raising the veto hammer, Bush needs to lead for a chance and help Congress forge a compromise that will work.

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Comments (4)

Paul Hamilton:

This has the feel of Bush's Social Security "reform" to me. He decided after 2004 that he was going to use his re-election as a mandate to reshape SS, failing to realize that people liked the program just the way it is, and that his narrow win didn't equate to carte blanche to do whatever he pleased. And he got his head handed to him on this issue, which was probably the last straw with a lot of Americans who now don't trust him on ANY issue.

SCHIP is a very popular program that does a lot of good for a lot of kids. The idea that he would veto a popular program and increase funding for a very unpopular war is a political disaster waiting to happen. Bush doesn't understand bipartisanship, and that could be his undoing here because this bill was the result of a lot of cooperation and hard work and the involved Republicans are not going to like having it all just rejected out of hand.

Lee Ward:

I suspect there is enough "wiggle-room" in the SCHIPS initiative that a compromise can be reached. Bush just seems extremely reluctant to hand over anything that remotely resembles a progressive victory -- anything that Democrats can point to to say "look what a Democratically-controlled" Congress can do!"

I suspect Rove believes that by forcing the American public to elect a larger Democratic majority in Congress next year --- one that's able to override a Republican president's veto, that there is a greater propensity for the American public to elect a Republican to the White House.

I suspect he's right.


You are beginning to catch on, Lee; it is all Bush's fault, but Rove is to blame.

Lee Ward:

As bad a decision as that may be, I believe Rove is still calling the shots vis a vis the White House political arm.


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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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