Addressing Children's Health Insurance SCHIP Reauthorization Bill

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Summaries of several recent editorials and opinion pieces and a letter to the editor that address the debate over legislation to reauthorize and expand SCHIP, as well as related issues, appear below.

Editorials

* Nashua Telegraph: "No program is perfect, but SCHIP has been a public health success story, not to mention a model of federal-state collaboration," and President Bush should "refrain from using his fourth veto and instead sign" the bill, according to a Telegraph editorial. "Obviously, a compromise of some sort will be worked out before 6.9 million children across the country lose their health insurance," the editorial states, adding, "It is simply unfortunate that the president has picked this issue to flex his 'fiscal-conservative' muscles" (Nashua Telegraph, 9/30).

* Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: More than 60 Republicans last week "abandoned conservatism and voted for a major expansion of the nanny state" through their support for the SCHIP bill, and "others may be about to join the lemmings in jumping over the socialist precipice," according to a Tribune-Review editorial. According to the editorial, "should GOP 'leaders' convince more lemmings to take the plunge and override a promised presidential veto," SCHIP would have the "perverse effect of encouraging those already with private coverage to opt for 'the government plan'" (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 9/30).

* Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin: SCHIP "has been successful, yet the need continues to grow," and the likely veto of the bill is a "shame," a Press & Sun-Bulletin editorial states. "If the president does veto this, what can be done to help the more than four million uninsured children who ... have family incomes 200% below the federal poverty level, many who could fall through the cracks if this isn't funded properly?" the editorial asks, adding, "Simply ignoring the problem won't solve it" (Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, 9/30).

* Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: SCHIP "is a sound program that clearly is working, in Pennsylvania and across the nation," but Bush "has been steadfast in maintaining his intention to veto" the bill, a Post-Gazette editorial states. "It's not too late for the president to change his mind," the editorial adds (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/2).

Opinion Pieces

* Dale McFeatters, New York Post: The provision in the bill that would fund an expansion of SCHIP with a 61-cent-per-pack increase in the federal tax on cigarettes has "surface appeal," but "Congress may find it has run afoul of the law of unintended consequences," columnist McFeatters writes in a Post opinion piece. "If the tax works as planned, the number of smokers will drop and so will revenue," and "the tax will fall most heavily on the poor and the poorly educated," he writes, adding, "The price of a justifiable expansion of child health care may have the unintended consequence of creating a new class of tax evaders" (McFeatters, New York Post, 10/2).

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* Bonnie Erbe, Scripps Howard/Salt Lake City Deseret Morning News: "Republicans and Democrats are fighting like old married couples" over SCHIP, an issue that "wouldn't even be on the forefront of the political agenda and would not be there if we had effective national leadership," columnist Erbe writes in a Scripps Howard/Deseret Morning News opinion piece. "No one wants to see children go without health care, no matter their families' economic status," but the U.S. "must step back during this face-off to ask what we can do to prevent future generations from becoming uninsured," Erbe writes, adding, "If there were no poverty, the numbers of children lacking health insurance would dwindle considerably" (Erbe, Scripps Howard/Salt Lake City Deseret Morning News, 9/30).

* Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), Huffington Post: The bill is "essential in strengthening SCHIP's financing and increasing health care coverage for an additional four million low-income children, all while improving the quality of health care that children receive," Slaughter writes in the Post. She writes, "We must take note that this program has the support of the majority of Congress and the American Public. In fact, the only place you can find opposition to providing health care to American children is the White House, as President Bush has made clear his intention to veto SCHIP!" She concludes, "President Bush must sign SCHIP into law; the lives of literally millions of American children depend on it" (Slaughter, Huffington Post, 9/25).

* David Winston, Roll Call: "SCHIP was designed to ensure that low-income children -- repeat, children -- who don't qualify for Medicaid are able to get health insurance," and, "when the program is abused by including adults, insured children and families far above the poverty level, fewer poor children can benefit from the program," Winston -- president of the Winston Group, a Republican polling company -- writes in a Roll Call opinion piece. According to Winston, expansion of SCHIP to all U.S. residents "seems to be the hidden agenda of many supporters of the Democrats' proposed SCHIP expansion," which is "an incremental, backdoor approach to universal health care by including many middle-income children who already have private insurance" (Winston, Roll Call, 10/2).

* Harold Meyerson, Washington Post: "You might think that ... providing children with health care, that the gains to the nation from having a healthy population would outweigh those of bolstering private health insurance companies in the name of laissez-faire ideology," but according to Bush and the "hard-right wing of the Republican Party, ... you'd be sadly mistaken," columnist Meyerson writes in a Post opinion piece. "Congress has placed a bill on the president's desk that would expand" SCHIP to cover most of the estimated nine million uninsured U.S. children, but Bush "argues that it could benefit some people who would otherwise stick with private insurers," Meyerson writes, adding, "By the same logic, no more public schools should be built in well-off communities. But public education is the American way, while publicly subsidized health care for children is creeping socialism" (Meyerson, Washington Post, 10/3).

* Tony Blankley, Washington Times: Republicans last week "put down their marker against health care for America's kids" with their opposition to the SCHIP bill, and the "likely rout of the GOP in next year's election proceeds apace," Blankley, executive vice president for global affairs at Edelman International and a visiting scholar at the Heritage Foundation, writes in a Times opinion piece. The legislation is a "cynical effort to expand an unnecessary entitlement for middle-income and even upper-middle-income ... kids and young adults, funded by a tax on primarily blue-collar Americans," but, with about three-fourths of U.S. residents opposed to their position, Republicans "will be badly on the losing side of the PR fight about kids' health care," he writes (Blankley, Washington Times, 10/3).

* Sens. Joe Biden (D-Del.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.), and Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.), Wilmington News Journal: SCHIP "has been a successful state-federal partnership in providing medical coverage to uninsured children," and the bill would "greatly improve the CHIP and further reduce the number of uninsured children in America," the lawmakers write in a News Journal opinion piece. "We encourage the president to swiftly sign this compromise into law," the lawmakers write, adding, "In a country as rich as America, no child should go without health insurance, and no parent should have to choose between paying their child's health care bill or paying their monthly mortgage" (Biden et al., Wilmington News Journal, 10/2).

Letter to Editor

* Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Memphis Commercial Appeal: Democrats and Republicans "share the common goal of expanding access to quality health care to all Americans, especially disadvantaged children," but the SCHIP bill "will not advance those efforts," Blackburn writes in a Commercial Appeal letter to the editor. "This bill would provide strong incentive for individuals and employers to dump private coverage and shift these costs to taxpayers," she writes, adding, "I continue to support a reauthorization of SCHIP in its original form, and I will continue to oppose efforts to expand government control over our health care choices" (Blackburn, Memphis Commercial Appeal, 10/1).

By Kaisernetwork.org

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