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George W. Bush loves poor, sick children. As the joke goes, he loves them so much that he’s forever trying to make more of them – both here at home, and, as the world well knows, abroad.

But it was no joke that during his televised press conference this past Thursday, our Child Advocate-in-chief  issued a challenge to Democrats to quickly renew (read: pass the legislation the president wants) the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, set to expire on September 30th. "If they fail to do so," he said, "more than a million children could lose health coverage."

Democrats in the House and in the Senate have already passed different proposals to renew and strengthen the program (for more on this, and on SCHIP, see an earlier post here), and are reportedly close to a deal that would expand the program by $35 billion over the next five years. The president, a veritable Marian Wright Edelman, has promised to veto such an expansion.

The same president who, on Thursday, accused Democrats of "putting poor children at risk so they can score political points in Washington" is putting poor children at risk so that he can score political points with his conservative base.

In order to just to maintain coverage for the six million children annually who currently receive health coverage thanks to the program, SCHIP would need to be funded at $39 billion over the next five years, an increase of $14 billion over baseline. This amount would neither strengthen the program, nor allow for the provision of health coverage for any of the nine million U.S. children currently without health care. It would simply maintain the status quo.

The president, that passionate defender of poor and sick children, has proposed increasing federal funding of SCHIP over the next five years by only $5 billion, to $30 billion, in essence a funding cut of $9 billion. Such a cut would endanger and likely end the health coverage of hundreds of thousands of currently covered children.

Perhaps that is what he meant at his news conference, that if he failed to renew and fund the program to take into account the rapid rise in health care costs since the program was launched a decade ago, perhaps as many as a million children could lose health coverage.

No, probably not. But then, who knows? The president has seemed more confused than ever in recent days. Mandela’s dead, you know.

The emerging House and Senate compromise could bring total enrollment in SCHIP to ten million children, an increase of four million, and a cut nearly by half in the rolls of uninsured children. The proposed compromise package would look much like the Senate version that was passed with bipartisan support by a veto-proof 68 to 31 vote in August.

Damn these 50 Democrats and 18 Republicans for putting poor children at risk!

The compromise bill would increase funding to the program by $35 billion over the next five years by increasing the federal excise tax on cigarettes, bringing total funding for SCHIP to $60 billion. It reduces by $15 billion funding authorized in the House version, which passed largely along party lines by a 225 to 204 vote, 65 votes shy of a veto-proof margin in a full House vote.

Democratic negotiators are hopeful that the compromise package will increase the chance that a veto-proof majority will be won upon a re-vote in the House. And while they nail down a final compromise, the president, a veritable Mr. Rogers, warns that "health coverage for these children should not be held hostage."

No, of course not. Only Iraqi children are allowed held hostage.

Renewing and strengthening SCHIP by expanding the program to cover millions more uninsured children has broad bipartisan support nationwide. Forty-three governors have called for Congress to expand the program. A majority of Americans polled support increasing the federal excise tax to direct funds to the health care of uninsured children.

So great, in fact, is the "surge" of support for SCHIP that it seems the only remaining insurgents are the president – a man out-sainted only by Mother Theresa in his love for poor and sick children – and those few dead-enders in their last throes who make up his base. It is time for about 65 House Republicans to decide whether they are for uninsured children, or against them.

List of Nay Voters For H.R. 3162 on August 1st, 2007:

Aderholt, Akin, Alexander, Bachmann, Bachus, Baker, Barrett (SC), Bartlett (MD), Barton (TX), Biggert, Bilbray, Bilirakis, Bishop (UT), Blackburn, Blunt, Boehner, Bonner, Bono, Boozman, Boren, Boustany, Brady (TX), Broun (GA), Brown (SC), Brown-Waite, Buchanan, Burgess, Burton (IN), Buyer, Calvert, Camp (MI), Campbell(CA), Cannon, Cantor, Carter, Castle, Chabot, Coble, Cole (OK), Conaway, Cooper, Cubin, Culberson, Davis (KY), Davis, David, Davis, Tom, Deal (GA), Dent, Diaz-Balart, L., Diaz-Balart, M., Donnelly, Doolittle, Drake, Dreier, Duncan, Ehlers, Ellsworth, Emerson, English (PA), Etheridge, Everett, Fallin, Feeney, Flake, Forbes, Fortenberry, Fossella, Foxx, Franks (AZ), Frelinghuysen, Gallegly, Garrett (NJ), Gerlach, Gilchrest, Gillmor, Gingrey, Gohmert, Goode, Goodlatte, Granger, Graves, Hall (TX), Hastert, Hastings (WA), Hayes, Heller, Hensarling, Herger, Hill, Hobson, Hoekstra, Hulshof, Hunter, Inglis (SC), Issa, Jindal, Johnson (IL), Jones (NC), Jordan, Keller, King(IA), King (NY), Kingston, Kirk, Kline (MN), Knollenberg, Kuhl (NY), Lamborn, Latham, LaTourette, Lewis (CA), Lewis (KY), Linder, Lucas, Lungren, Daniel E., Mack, Manzullo, Marchant, Marshall, McCarthy (CA), McCaul (TX), McCotter, McCrery, McHenry, McHugh, McIntyre, McKeon, McMorris Rodgers, Mica, Miller (FL), Miller (MI), Miller, Gary, Moran (KS), Murphy, Tim, Musgrave, Myrick, Neugebauer, Nunes, Paul, Pearce, Pence, Peterson (PA), Petri, Pickering, Pitts, Platts, Poe, Porter, Price (GA), Pryce (OH), Putnam, Radanovich, Ramstad, Regula, Rehberg, Reichert, Renzi, Reynolds, Rogers (AL), Rogers (KY), Rogers (MI), Rohrabacher, Ros-Lehtinen, Roskam, Royce, Ryan (WI), Sali, Saxton, Schmidt, Sensenbrenner, Sessions, Shadegg, Shimkus, Shuler, Shuster, Simpson, Smith (NE), Smith (NJ), Smith, (TX), Souder, Stearns, Sullivan, Tancredo, Taylor, Terry, Thornberry, Tiahrt, Tiberi, Turner, Upton, Walberg, Walden (OR), Walsh (NY), Wamp, Weldon (FL), Weller, Westmoreland, Whitfield, Wicker, Wilson (NM), Wilson (SC), Wolf, Young (AK), Young (FL)

See your congresscritter? Well, give 'em a call!

Originally posted to StrangeAnimals on Fri Sep 21, 2007 at 10:51 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Forgive me, Ms. Edelman,... (19+ / 0-)

    ...for including GWB in the same sentence as you. I can only hope that in sharing a sentence he does not sully your good name.

    Being aghast is not enough.

    by StrangeAnimals on Fri Sep 21, 2007 at 10:47:07 PM PDT

  •  Hi, Doc. Another good one. (11+ / 0-)

    I was checking the site right when your new diary popped up. I have so many college students with little kids who depend on the Oregon Health Plan, SCHIP, food stamps, etc, just to almost make ends meet so they, the moms and dads, can go to school and better their chances for making a decent living some day. The poverty of so many of our students and the precariousness of their lives is ever-present. I see red every time these sorts of funding issues come up because it seems like such an obvious no-brainer. Thanks for the summary and update.

    "Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There's no better rule." -- Mr. Jaggers in Great Expectations

    by StageStop on Fri Sep 21, 2007 at 11:46:49 PM PDT

    •  Nice to hear from you, StageStop... (7+ / 0-)

      ...and to hear your spot on thoughts, once again.

      About 5-10 percent of my child patients receive health care coverage thanks to SCHIP. Another 25-30 percent are on the Oregon Health Plan. Another 5-10 percent have no health insurance coverage, and for them we often provide free or discounted care, and try our best to enroll them in patient assistance programs if chronic medications are needed. I also work hard with pharmaceutical reps (yes, I wash thoroughly afterwards) to have samples provided to my office for the purpose of helping out families without insurance with simple things like antibiotics, or asthma medications. It's a lot of work, and takes a lot of time, but what's the alternative? Oh, yeah, that's right: universal health care!

      Nowadays, some families have taken to bartering for health care...for instance, one child in my practice, who needed repeated visits for brittle asthma, had no insurance, despite two working parents (who could ill-afford the high cost). As payment, the father insisted on building a new wheelchair ramp for our office at the cost of materials only. This is not the only example that I have, such as how it has come to be in this country. I wouldn't be surprised to start receiving eggs and preserves as payment if the numbers of uninsured children continues to climb.

      Ranting. Must stop.

      Being aghast is not enough.

      by StrangeAnimals on Sat Sep 22, 2007 at 07:47:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the list of Reps to call n/t (5+ / 0-)

    "Control of the initiative is control of the battle. In the alley, at the poker table or in politics. One must raise." David Mamet

    by coral on Sat Sep 22, 2007 at 07:21:54 AM PDT

  •  Bush is threatening to veto everything (4+ / 0-)

    But I doubt this will go over well with the majority of Americans.

    His argument is based on his determination to aid insurance companies, he is more worried about them losing customers than he is in increasing the number of children who have access to health care!

    I wonder if he has the arrogance to actually veto this, I think he does. And I hope the Republicans who vote against this get hell from their constituants.

    01-20-09: THE END OF AN ERROR

    by kimoconnor on Sat Sep 22, 2007 at 09:01:46 AM PDT

    •  I totally agree Bush has the arrogance (3+ / 0-)

      and just plain venality and meanness of spirit to veto the bill. I hate to admit it, but part of me at this point almost wants him to do every horrible, outrageous thing so that we can sweep all his supporters and like-minded (or-too-craven-to-object) legislators out of office for decades. But I also know people are desperate and suffering right now, and that we must push Congress to pass the legislation in veto-proof numbers.  

      "Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There's no better rule." -- Mr. Jaggers in Great Expectations

      by StageStop on Sat Sep 22, 2007 at 10:24:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bill Young is going to get a phone (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    StageStop, StrangeAnimals

    call. In fact, I'll be looking forward to his next meet and greet in the area. I'd like him to meet my children and explain to me personally why, even though their father works 60+ hours a week that they don't deserve health insurance.

  •  This is an example of Government Works (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fhcec, StageStop, StrangeAnimals

    For $758 per child per year, the government is providing health insurance by creating a large pool of children who need it and contracting with the private insurance companies.

    As an individual, my bill for my child with those same companies is 3x that.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Sat Sep 22, 2007 at 01:46:04 PM PDT

    •  And as I just realized, and posted on the FP thr (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      StageStop, StrangeAnimals

      thread, that means that the Federal government actually already pays more than $758 for my daughter's insurance - because our mighty high premium is tax deductible.

      Interesting...

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Sat Sep 22, 2007 at 02:08:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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