Republican Senator Chuck Grassley from Nebraska speaks on Bush's veto of the S-Chip legislation.
[B]ackers of the measure, who are working to override the veto, say the president doesn't understand how the bill would actually work.[...]
"I believe in private medicine," Bush told an audience in Lancaster, Penn., on Wednesday morning. "I believe in helping poor people, which was the intent of SCHIP, now being expanded beyond its initial intent. I also believe that the federal government should make it easier for people to afford private insurance. I don't want the federal government making decisions for doctors and customers."
But SCHIP isn't the kind of program where government officials make medical decisions. Under SCHIP, children are enrolled in private health insurance.
"Typically, children have a choice from among competing private health-insurance companies," says Stan Dorn, a senior research associate with the Urban Institute, a Washington-based think tank. "There's no federally specified benefits package. There's no individual entitlement."
The president also complained that the bill would cover too many children who don't need federal help. "This program expands coverage, federal coverage, up to families earning $83,000 a year. That doesn't sound poor to me," the president told the Lancaster audience.
Dorn says that's not exactly right, either. "This bill would actually put new limits in place to keep states from going to very high-income levels. SCHIP money would no longer be available over 300 percent of the federal poverty level, which is about $60,000 for a family of four."
The president gets to make the $83,000 claim because New York had wanted to allow children in families with incomes up to four times the poverty level onto the program. That is, indeed, $82,600. The Department of Health and Human Services rejected New York's plan last month, and under the bill, that denial would stand.
Bush is attempting to impress his base with his "fiscal responsibility" by vetoing a program that was fully funded by a tobacco tax, and that actually reduces the federal deficit by over a billion dollars according to the CBO.
According to CBO, the various provisions to maintain and expand children's health coverage would cost $34.9 billion over five years, with these costs fully offset by an increase in federal tobacco taxes. In fact, the CBO estimates show the bill would reduce the deficit by $1.4 billion over the next five years.
Bush is using his veto sword trying to impress his conservative base and prop up support for the GOP, and he's using that sword on the backs of our country's poor children.
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