SCHIP Veto A Big Cavity For Children's Oral Healthcare
State Children's Health Insurance Program
President Bush's veto of a bill to continue publicly funded health coverage for millions of children from families with low incomes creates a state of decay in America's medical and dental health, says Oral Health America, a national advocacy organization. President Bush's decision effectively denies healthcare for the ten million children eligible for coverage through a bipartisan, bicameral agreement to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Oral Health America expressed concern for the children and families affected by the veto, and urged the public to speak up for children's health, including oral health.
"The agreement by Senate and House leaders from both parties to reauthorize SCHIP was a ray of hope for our healthcare system," said Robert Klaus, Oral Health America's President and CEO. "Now, we are not only losing what was asked for in the agreement, but our nation will see a diminution in care for those who need but cannot afford it -- this in a year when we have already lost two children to untreated tooth decay."
On September 21, 2007, a coalition of Congressional Republicans and Democrats reached an agreement that preserved SCHIP for the children currently covered, and also provided health coverage to additional low-income, uninsured American children.
The agreement also provided dental coverage to all children enrolled in SCHIP, and ensured that states would offer mental health services on par with medical and surgical benefits covered under SCHIP. Medically necessary benefits (EPSDT) were protected by the agreement. The agreement did not call for SCHIP coverage for children in families at higher income levels.
This was the fourth veto of Bush's presidency.
"If this veto is sustained, Americans will experience an increase in healthcare costs as families seek emergency care in hospitals," added Robert Klaus. "This is not the vision we share with health and family advocates, and with the American public, for the health and well being of our children.