Friday, September 21, 2007

Let The SCHIPs Fall Where They May

The State Child Health Care Insurance Program (SCHIP) is a major bone of contention between President Bush and the United States Senate. There is never a lack of strident debate when it comes to issues as polarizing as health care has become. Sources large and small are weighing in on the subject everywhere from major networks to the blogosphere.

Political correspondent John Fout talks about SCHIP and examines the brewing confrontation for The Street in his Market Features column:

The program provides coverage to poor children who are ineligible for coverage under Medicare and who lack private health insurance, and according to a Senate report, it's been a big success. According to the report, the number of uninsured children has decreased from 14% in 1997 to about 9% in 2005, bucking the opposite trend for adults.

Fout then proceeds to examine both the funding source for the new expansion and the President's rationale for his threatened veto:

The expansion of the SCHIP program would be funded by a small tax increase on cigarettes. A recent poll by the American Medical Association found that 70% of Americans support a tax hike to pay for children's health care. In addition, incremental increases in cigarette prices are thought to have played a role in decreases in smoking. This sounds like a win-win situation for public health.

Bush, however, prefers to fight expansion of the program. He favors funding care for poor children only -- rather than the lower- or middle-class families who'd be covered under the Senate bill -- and suggested that expansion would cause middle-class families to cancel private policies in favor of public policies. The expansion only affects people presently lacking coverage.

President Bush went on to characterize the bill as "federalization" of health care and to accuse Democrats of using the issue "to score political points." He has also promised to veto the bill once it reaches his desk. (As pointed out in our Aug. 3 post, it passed the Senate with a 68-31 margin -- sufficient to override a veto.)

SOURCE: "Bush Fights Losing Battle Over Kids' Health Care" 09/20/07
photo courtesy of Tenuda on Flickr

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