Bush Veto of Kids’ Insurance Bill Poses Challenge to California Health Reform
When Gov. Schwarzenegger returned from the Special Olympics in China, he came back to a new obstacle for his plan to expand health insurance coverage -- President Bush on Wednesday vetoed the State Children's Health Insurance Program legislation. The bill would have reauthorized and expanded SCHIP. It also would have increased funding by $35 billion over the next five years.
Schwarzenegger's plan to overhaul health care relies on an expansion of Healthy Families, California's version of SCHIP. But Bush is pushing rules that would limit states' leeway in enrolling children from households with incomes above 200% of the federal poverty level and restrict eligibility for the program.
Research commissioned by the California HealthCare Foundation projects that under the president's plan to increase funding for SCHIP by $5 billion over five years, California would lose more than $700 million in federal funding over five years, translating to almost 775,000 children losing coverage through Healthy Families.
California is fighting the veto and the new federal rules. Gov. Schwarzenegger said he was "deeply disappointed" by the veto, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco is leading the charge to overturn it. Meanwhile, California officials have announced that the state will file a brief supporting other states' legal challenge of the federal rules.
Beyond the battle over SCHIP and the special legislative session on health care reform, Schwarzenegger has just over a week to take action on more than 600 bills. Some of the measures under consideration include legislation to require insurers to cover diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders and a bill to continue Med-Cal benefits for disabled enrollees who are temporarily unemployed.