Local Officials Brace for Veto of Kids’ Health Bill
Up to 120,000 children in inland Southern California could lose health insurance coverage if President Bush vetoes compromise legislation that would reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program and expand enrollment from 6.6 million children to about 10 million children, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports (Hines/Goad, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 9/26).
The bill, which resembles the Senate version of SCHIP legislation, would provide an additional $35 billion in funding over the next five years and bring total spending on the program to $60 billion. The additional funding would be paid for by a 61-cent-per-pack increase in the tobacco tax, as proposed in the Senate version (California Healthline, 9/26).
The House approved the measure on Tuesday but fell short of the 290 votes needed to override Bush's veto. The Senate is expected to vote on the legislation by Thursday.
SCHIP, known as Healthy Families in California, is set to expire Sunday. About 800,000 California children are enrolled in the program.
Lesley Cummings -- executive director of the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, which oversees Healthy Families -- said she expects Congress to pass an extension of the program as it drafts a bill that Bush will sign.
However, the state still could be forced to eliminate children from the program, depending on how much funding is allocated under the measure.
Cummings said cutting the number of enrollees "would be catastrophic," adding, "We would have to have a day of reckoning here in state government" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 9/26).