Wednesday, 12 June 2024

Thompson vows to continue fight for children's health care

LAKE COUNTY – On Thursday the House of Representatives didn't manage to gather enough votes to override President George W. Bush's veto of a health care program for needy children.

The House fell 13 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to save the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), HR 976, from the president's veto, according to Congressman Mike Thompson's office.

Bush vetoed the bill Oct. 3, saying that the bill raised spending by as much as $50 million, that it would cover children in households with incomes of as much as $83,000 annually and would raise taxes, according to a White House statement.

In his Oct. 6 radio address, Bush called the bill “deeply flawed,” and said it was an “incremental step” toward Congress' goal of government-run health care.

Thompson reacted Thursday by saying that “Members of Congress who chose to walk lock-step with the president rather than represent their constituents have kept millions of children from getting the health care they desperately need.”

The bipartisan bill, said Thompson, was to provide coverage to more than 10 million children from families that can’t afford private insurance.

“In addition to being supported by the vast majority of Americans, this bill is supported by 43 governors and hundreds of health-related organizations, including the health insurance companies. And, it’s completely paid for,” he said. “Those Members of Congress who voted against this bill and then call themselves compassionate conservatives should take a long, hard look in the mirror.”

Thompson's office reported that SCHIP would continue coverage for 6.6 million children, including more than 1,600 kids in Lake County.

In addition, HR 974 would extend coverage to 4 million children who qualify, but are not currently enrolled, Thompson's office reported. California has already identified 200,000 uninsured children who could benefit from this program if the current bill became law.

SCHIP was the product of months of compromise between Democrats and Republicans, said Thompson, “so when opponents say they’re waiting for a compromise bill, they’re blowing a lot of hot air.”

He added, “Claims that this bill provides coverage to adults and illegal immigrants or raises the income eligibility are equally false. This bill does not change the eligibility for SCHIP at all. It simply increases the resources available for SCHIP so kids who aren’t currently enrolled but qualify can get the coverage they need.”

State Assemblymember Patty Berg (D-Eureka) also issued a statement on the vote's failure to override the veto, which she said was deeply disappointing, although not entirely surprising.

“It is a sad day for California’s children and children across this nation,” she said. “The veto override places California’s children in jeopardy. Our kids are our future, and they certainly deserve better than this.”

Berg's office reported that, without federal funding, California’s children are at-risk of losing health insurance. State programs cover about 800,000 children with family incomes at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty line.

Said Thompson, “We’re going to continue to fight for this bill until we prevail. Reauthorizing SCHIP in order to expand health care for our children is a fight we cannot afford to lose.”

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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