The State Children’s Heath Insurance Program has been in the news of late, as the 10 year old program is set to expire in 2007, but a broad bi-partisan coalition in the House and Senate has determined that not only did the program merit a continued (and much needed existence), but also that the frozen asset level mandated by the original legislation was insufficient to address the massive problem of uninsured children in the US, so an additional 35 Million was added to the fund’s assets in order to widen the coverage to hopefully provide coverage for all 9 million uninsured children.
Score one for legislative cooperation and domestic priorities, eh? No, of course not. President Bush has plainly stated that he will veto the bill on the grounds that it moves us one step closer to government funded, universal health care, which he opposes on (in his words) philosophical grounds. Sadly, there is probably little chance of the Senate overriding the veto, even though the bill was passed in August with a 68 to 31 vote majority. (Indeed, the citizen population wants it to pass as well). That, to me, is the very definition of maddening. Thankfully, New Jersey and other states are looking to the courts as a avenue if Bush goes ahead and vetoes, with suits already in the pipeline.
What aggravates me the most, however, is how the coverage repeatedly bandies about phrases about how some states are looking to allow SCHIP to cover families whose income is up to 300% of the Federal Poverty Level without ever explaining that the Federal Poverty Guideline states that the line for a family of four is $20,000 (which is obscene enough), making 300% be an income of roughly $60,000 a year. News flash: A household of four bringing in $60,000 a year is not exactly upper middle-class, folks. Considering the rising mortgage (or just rent) costs, not to mention rising food and gas prices, it’s not some far stretch to think that a family of four might need some assistance ensuring that their kids have health insurance.
Is there a point to any of this? Not much beyond how incredibly infuriating it is to think that this administration would not only deny States the right to determine their own levels of involvement based off regional costs of living, not to mention the sickening thought that some 9 million children in the United States may have to go without health insurance because one man’s fear that expanding SCHIP benefits is a step in the direction of universal health care.