The House voted 265-159 to approve a bill that would fund the 10-year-old State Childrens Health Insurance Program with an additional $34.7 billion over five years and extend coverage to about 10 million children. Forty-five Republicans voted for the legislation, although the final tally fell shy of the 290 votes needed to override a presidential veto. The Senate is expected to approve the bill today or tomorrow.
President Bush has said that he will veto the bill later this week, claiming that Congress is trying to expand SCHIP to children from higher income families. President Bush would like to see this reauthorized. Wed do this today, but this is a program to cover low-income children, and thats not what the bill does, said HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt. This ought to be about moving uninsured children into SCHIP, not about moving insured children into government insurance, he said.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) countered that Bush wants to send children to emergency rooms when they get sick instead of offering insurance. This is not socialized medicine as our president has often said. It is sound moral health policy and our country should not provide less, he said in a written statement.
The bill would allow coverage of children of higher income families but under certain conditions. After Oct. 1, 2010, federal matching payments would not be permitted to states that cover children whose family incomes exceed 300% of the federal poverty rate, if the state does not meet a target for the percentage of children at or below 200% of poverty enrolled in SCHIP. The federal poverty level is $20,650 for a family of four. -- by Jennifer Lubell