Discussing Bush SCHIP Veto, New Rules

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State Children's Health Insurance Program

Summaries of editorials, opinion pieces and letters to the editor discussing new Bush administration rules on SCHIP enrollment and President Bush's veto of compromise legislation to reauthorize and expand the program appear below.

Editorials

  • Bergen Record:Not only did Bush veto the expansion of SCHIP, but he also appears"determined to eviscerate" the program through his administration's newenrollment rules, a Record editorial states. "The rules sound like something one of Dickens' crueler characters would dream up," the Recordcontinues. The editorial concludes, "Congress should quickly overrideany presidential veto and insist the White House drop its draconianstance" (Bergen Record, 10/3).

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  • Detroit Free Press:Bush's veto means SCHIP faces an "undeservedly quarrelsome future," buta veto "may inspire some House members to change their minds and avoidthe heat of further negotiation," the Free Press writesin an editorial. "The final legislation was a solid compromise," andBush's "contention" that SCHIP is a "foot in the door for nationalizedhealth care ... looks thin -- and nakedly political -- when most statesadminister the program through private insurers and managed carecompanies," according to the Free Press. The editorialconcludes, "Surely this country can keep children from suffering evenas the political acrimony grows over health care for everyone else" (Detroit Free Press, 10/3).

  • Philadelphia Inquirer:"There was no convincing reason for President Bush to deliver on hislong-standing threat of veto for the SCHIP bill -- other than that he hoped to score political points," an Inquirereditorial writes. Although Bush said he vetoed the bill "to forceCongress to 'produce a good bill that puts poorer children first,'" hisown proposal "offers a $5 billion increase that won't even keep pacewith the number of children being added to the uninsured rolls,"according to the editorial. The Inquirer concludes that it is "difficult to see how the president's strategy on SCHIP puts any more children first" (Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/4).
  • St. Petersburg Times:"The SCHIP compromise isn't perfect, but it would provide millions ofchildren with health insurance who don't have it now," and Bush'sinsistence on vetoing it "reflects a stubborn unwillingness toacknowledge rising concerns about an issue that will be at theforefront of the 2008 elections," the Times writes in aneditorial. Unless House Republicans succumb to "public pressure to dothe right thing," they will "have to join the president in explainingto Americans of modest means why an ideological fight is worth morethan the health of their children," the Times concludes (St. Petersburg Times, 10/3).
  • Trenton Times: "Health care for children is the wrong issue on which President Bush should stake his political legacy," according to a Timeseditorial. The editorial continues, "What is more important? Preventingsome higher-income level families from dumping costly private healthplans in favor of publicly financed ones or extending health insuranceto millions of children whose parents can't afford coverage?" theeditorial continues. "In the grand scheme of things, spending $35billion more to insure health coverage for about 10 million uninsuredchildren is a small price to pay when we are pumping billions more intoa war that is paying few dividends," the Times concludes (Trenton Times, 10/3).
  • Wilmington News Journal: Both sides on the SCHIP debate are "maneuvering for political advantage, not for the country's benefit," a News Journal editorial states. According to the News Journal,Bush plans to veto the compromise legislation because the program"costs too much," but he "can be criticized on that point" for allowing"far more expensive programs go by without a squawk." Meanwhile,Democrats' plan to pay for the SCHIP expansion by taxing cigarettes is"a classic dodge of mismatching a program that is likely to expand andgrow more expensive over time with a revenue source that is likely toshrink over the same period." The editorial concludes, "SCHIP is onlythe start of this phase of the Bush-Democrat war. We can expect more.Unfortunately" (Wilmington News Journal, 10/3).

Opinion Pieces

  • Michael McGough, Los Angeles Times:The SCHIP "quibbling isn't over the notion that kids are entitled to aspecial program of their own but about whether the legislation Bushvetoed Wednesday needlessly covers middle-class children with access toprivate insurance," McGough, the Times' senior editorialwriter, writes in an opinion piece. "What makes the SCHIP discussion sointeresting is that it marries the two powerful themes: childhoodinnocence and the notion of the 'deserving poor,'" McGough states. Heconcludes, "The child may truly be the father of the man -- and so whyshouldn't he be the object of our compassion, conservative orotherwise, even after he starts to shave? Wouldn't that be the greatestlove of all?" (McGough, Los Angeles Times, 10/4).
  • Debra Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle:"It is as if Washington Dems and Repubs have reached a cynical pact --an agreement to pass bills which expand the size and scope ofgovernment, without ever coming up with an honest way to pay for them,"Chronicle columnist Saunders writes in an opinion piece.Saunders continues that "while Bush says he wants to put 'poor kidsfirst,' he'll be in a corner that may force him to accommodate theDemocratic leadership's plan to expand SCHIP to the middle class."Saunders concludes, "I, too, believe in providing health care for needychildren, but in this country, we've forgotten how to draw a line"(Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/4).
  • Gary Andres, Washington Times:SCHIP is "only one element in a much larger, contentious" health caredebate, and if Republicans fail to "provide concrete ideas," they "willrepeatedly find themselves on defense as next year's electionapproaches," Andres, vice chair of research and policy at Dutko Worldwide and a former White House senior lobbyist, writes in a Timesopinion piece. "Once again, in the liberal welfare paradigm, more moneyis tantamount to caring," but Republicans must address the question of"how can we make health care more affordable?" Andres writes, notingthat polls show reducing the cost of health care is more of a concernamong U.S. residents than expanding coverage. He continues, "Whoeverseizes the reform mantle by lowering costs will earn big dividends withvoters" (Andres, Washington Times, 10/4).

Letters to the Editor

  • Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Washington Post:The SCHIP bill "does nothing to raise income eligibility levels" in theprogram and "does not change the original law that requiresadministration approval for any eligibility level" higher than 200% ofthe federal poverty level or 50% higher than a "state's Medicaid incomecap," as columnist Robert Novak wrote in a Sept. 27 opinion piece, Baucus and Grassley write in a Postletter the editor. According to the authors, the legislation "only setsthe level -- a lower level -- of federal matching funds for states thatwin future approvals," and the bill "not only maintains the ban on newcoverage of childless adults but removes childless adults from theprogram altogether." The authors conclude, "It's fine to have aphilosophical debate over the merits" of SCHIP, but "opponents shouldbe intellectually honest about what our bill does and doesn't do"(Baucus/Grassley, Washington Post, 10/4).
  • Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.), Arizona Republic:"Democrats want to move to a government-run health care system," andthe SCHIP bill "would be another step in that direction," Kyl writes ina Republic letter to the editor. The legislation "wouldallow coverage of children from upper-income families earning as muchas $82,600 per year and allow states to continue enrolling new adults,"he writes, adding, "As a result, for every one new SCHIP enrollee, thenonpartisan Congressional Budget Officeestimates one person now covered by private insurance will move to thegovernment program." According to Kyl, "Congress should pass the SCHIPextension offered by Republicans, which would cover children inlow-income families who do not already have insurance" (Kyl, Arizona Republic, 10/4).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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