House Unlikely To Override Bush’s Veto of Kids’ Health Bill
The House on Wednesday is scheduled to vote on whether to override President Bush's second veto of a bill (HR 3963) that would have expanded the State Children's Health Insurance Program, but supporters of the legislation are about a dozen votes short of the two-thirds majority needed, CongressDaily reports (Johnson, CongressDaily, 1/22).
The legislation would have expanded the program to cover 10 million children and increased spending on the program by $35 billion over five years, funded with a 61-cent-per-pack increase of the federal cigarette tax. It also would have limited coverage to children in families with annual incomes below 300% of the federal poverty level. Bush vetoed another version of the bill in October 2007 (California Healthline, 12/13/07).
According to the AP/San Francisco Chronicle, Democrats recently have stressed that more families will need to rely on SCHIP coverage this year if unemployment rates increase (Freking, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/23).
Joint Economic Committee Democrats on Friday released a report that found enrollment in SCHIP and Medicaid increased by 5% to 9% as state unemployment rates increased. According to the report, which was written without input from Republicans, if employment falls as it did after the recession in 2001, between 700,000 and 1.1 million additional children would enroll in SCHIP or Medicaid each year.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who is a member of the committee, said overriding the veto of the SCHIP expansion bill will provide funding for the program to cover the demand brought on by a recession (CongressDaily, 1/22).
Nadeam Elshami, a spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said, "In a slowing economy, strengthening SCHIP and providing health care to 10 million children is sound policy, and overriding the president's veto is more critical than ever" (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/23).
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said, "During these challenging days, it would be irresponsible to expand the SCHIP program to cover adults, illegal immigrants and those who already have private health insurance, at the expense of the low-income children who need it most" (Wayne, CQ Today, 1/22).