This week, the House will vote yet again to override the President’s veto of low income children's health insurance, the revised, bipartisan SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program) bill (H.R. 3963).
In this weakening economy, more and more American parents are having difficulty finding affordable health insurance for their children. Funding the enrollment of children already eligible for the SCHIP program is more critical than ever. In Virginia alone, an economic downturn means 19,400 kids are projected to enter Medicaid each year the downturn lasts.
Congress overriding this veto will provide health care coverage for 10 million children of working families. The bill will preserve coverage for all 6.6 million children currently covered by SCHIP and extend coverage to 3.8 million children who are currently uninsured, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. In the Commonwealth, that means 211,200 children would be covered.
Polls show the bipartisan SCHIP bill has the broad support. of 81 percent of the American people; 64 Senators (including 17 Republicans); 43 Governors (including 16 Republicans); and more than 270 organizations, including AARP, AMA, Catholic Health Association, and Families USA have also packed the program.
Unfortunately, enough House Republicans continue to stand between millions of children and the health care they need, making a veto override difficult. If our nation goes into a recession, which is possible, those on the fringes of our society will be hit first and hit the hardest. This SCHIP bill seeks to insulate those among us who are the most vulnerable — children of low income families.
SCHIP is a top legislative priority for the New Direction Congress. President Bush's opposition and that of my colleagues across the aisle is misplaced, reflecting budget priorities that are crosswise with an America that seeks to provide its children with an equal chance to succeed or fail in life. Change is coming however, and this issue is one whose deep support raises the likelihood that in the end, low income children will receive the care they need.