Monday, 22 July 2024

House fails to override SCHIP veto

On Wednesday the House of Representative failed for the second time to override the president's veto of a health care bill aimed at the nation's neediest children which Republicans said raised spending too much.

The House voted 260-152 on HR 3963, the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007 (SCHIP).

The final tally on the bill, which is meant to offer millions of families health care for their children, failed to achieve the two-thirds majority needed to override President George W. Bush's veto last year.

Bush has so far vetoed the bill in two different incarnations, with vetoes coming in October and December.

The bill would have continued coverage for the 6.6 million children currently enrolled in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), including nearly 1,700 kids in Lake County, according to the office of Congressman Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena), who has been a steadfast supporter of the bill.

SCHIP also extends coverage to 4 million uninsured children who qualify for the program, but aren’t currently enrolled, Thompson's office reported.

Thompson, back to work in the Capitol after undergoing surgery for diverticulitis last month, was one of those voting for the bill Wednesday, according to his Washington spokesperson, Anne Warden.

The Wednesday vote closely followed party lines, with only 42 Republicans offering their support. Only 1 Democrat voted against the bill, according to Congressional voting records.

Thompson called the override failure an “especially devastating blow to millions of families that are struggling under increasingly challenging economic conditions.”

“Thousands of families in Northern California are unable to cope with the rising cost of heat, food, gas and health care,” Thompson said in a Wednesday statement. “And as unemployment in California grows, so does the number of people without health insurance. As our economy worsens, providing health coverage for the children from the neediest families is more critical than ever.”

Thompson accused the president of playing politics with the health of the country's neediest children as the country faces an economic crisis. He added that too many of his colleagues in Congress followed Bush's lead with their votes Wednesday.

“This bill was crafted by Republicans and Democrats and it is supported by 43 governors and the vast majority of Americans,” he said. “Had Members of Congress voted in the best interest of their constituents, today’s veto override would not have failed.”

Economic conditions in California – combined with the state’s budget shortfalls – make expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program especially critical, said Thompson.

With California’s unemployment rate rising – the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the state's December unemployment rate was 6.1 percent, well above the national average of 5 percent – the struggling housing market, and rising gas and energy prices, Thompson is concerned that more families will be unable to provide their children with health care.

Thompson said the second version of SCHIP included changes requested by President Bush after his first veto, such as making sure the lowest-income children are served first.

However, in November the White House criticized the second bill, saying it would cost even more over the next five years than the previous version which the president had vetoed.

On Wednesday White House Press Secretary Dana Perino issued a statement that said Bush strongly supports reauthorizing the program “in a way that puts poor children first.”

The president opposed the “misguided legislation” because it would have expanded SCHIP to higher income households while increasing taxes, Perino said.

In December Congress passed legislation to extend SCHIP to March 31, 2009, legislation which the president supported.

“Ultimately our goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage not to move children who already have private insurance to government coverage,” Perino said.

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


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