Addressing SCHIP Kids' Insurance
State Children's Health Insurance Program
Summaries of editorials, opinion pieces and letters to the editor addressing President Bush's veto of legislation that would have reauthorized and expanded SCHIP appear below.
- Baltimore Sun: The campaign to override President Bush's veto of legislation "isn't going well" from a "Maryland perspective," the Sunwrites in an editorial. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) was "the onlyMarylander to vote against" the SCHIP bill and "has reveled in theattention" from the vote, "saying he was pleased to be identified asthe only one who got it right," the Sun notes. If Bush'sveto is upheld, "tens of thousands" of Maryland children will losetheir health care benefits, the editorial continues. It urges Bartlettto "reconsider the various options for SCHIP on the merits" of aprogram that was "designed primarily by Senate Republicans to help ...working people who can't get insurance through employers and can'tafford the full cost of buying it on their own." For many people,"SCHIP is a vital safety net," the editorial concludes (Baltimore Sun, 10/11).
- Christian Science Monitor:Concerns about children's health care "should never be used as apolitical football, [but] that's the case with" SCHIP, which has"become a campaign 'wedge' issue" when it instead should be "a windowof opportunity for a consensus on reform of health care," the Monitorwrites in an editorial. The editorial suggests that Congress "makemoney available directly to poor families" as "a tax credit" to enablethem "to pay for health care providers of their choice ... or pay theirshare of employer-based insurance." The credit could be "indexed torising health care costs and based on different costs by region." Theeditorial concludes, "The issue of health care need not be a third railin American politics, used to burn. Renewal of SCHIP the right way canplay to people's hopes, not their fears" (Christian Science Monitor, 10/10).
- New York Times:When the SCHIP veto override vote takes place next week, "anylegislators from New York or New Jersey who fail to support thisessential program will be sabotaging their own state's program and, farworse, punishing their own state's children," the Timeswrites in an editorial. It notes that those two states -- "where healthcare costs are especially high -- have been the most aggressive intrying to expand coverage to middle-income children, not just thenear-poor who are the chief targets of SCHIP." If the veto "issustained, both would see their efforts thwarted," the Times continues (New York Times, 10/12).
- Oklahoman:"Those urging an override" of Bush's veto "use emotion-laded argumentsthat avoid the hard question of whether people who can afford healthinsurance should take the responsibility to obtain it," according to aneditorial in the Oklahoman. The expansion of SCHIP wouldcause the responsibility "for the health care of millions of children"to "pass from the family to Uncle Sam," the editorial continues, so iffederal "coverage of children becomes an entitlement for all but thewealthiest of citizens, a major step toward universal health care willbe taken. This is why Bush vetoed the bill." The editorial concludes,"We agree ... that the private sector offers a more efficient andcost-effective approach to health care than the bureaucracy. Yet theoverride truck rolls on without stopping for the hard question" (Oklahoman, 10/10).
- Rochester Democrat and Chronicle:"The over-inflated political football known as" SCHIP "continues to bean embarrassment to President Bush, the Democrat-controlled Congressand all those operatives who believe that scoring partisan points ismore important than health care for uninsured young people," accordingto a Democrat and Chronicle editorial. The editorialwrites that the Democratic congressional leadership "should stop tryingto round up votes for an override of Bush's veto and instead come upwith a reauthorization plan that captures more, though likely not all,of the children now without coverage." It concludes, "What politiciansdon't seem to realize is that none of them, whatever their partybanner, looks good when children's health is used so cynically aspolitical leverage" (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 10/11).
- Michael Petit, The Hill:Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Texas) in 2004 won an election against aRepublican candidate in Texas' 17th congressional district -- "home tothe president's Crawford Ranch" and a district in which Republicansoutnumber Democrats "by a nearly 3-to-1 margin" -- in a victory that"had everything to do with SCHIP," Petit, president of Vote Kids, writes in The Hill.Petit concludes, "The president, in his veto of SCHIP, and hiscongressional allies may well be taking what they believe is aprincipled stand in support of their deep anti-government ideology,"but "at least in the president's own congressional district, theideology does not seem to run so deep" (Petit, The Hill, 10/10).
- Paul Krugman, New York Times:"Two weeks ago, the Democratic response to President Bush's weeklyradio address was delivered by a 12-year-old, Graeme Frost," whosustained brain injuries in a 2004 automobile accident and is enrolledin SCHIP, columnist Krugman writes in a Times opinionpiece. Frost is "exactly the kind of child the program is intended tohelp," Krugman continues, but "that didn't stop the right from mountingan all-out smear campaign against him and his family." He adds,"Politics aside, the Graeme Frost case demonstrates the true depth ofthe health care crisis: every other advanced country has universalhealth insurance, but in America, insurance is now out of reach formany hard-working families, even if they have incomes some might callmiddle-class" (Krugman, New York Times, 10/12).
- E.J. Dionne, Washington Post:"Conservatives claim to be in favor of stable families, smallbusinesses, hard work, private schools, investment and homeownership,"columnist Dionne writes in a Post opinion piece, adding,"So why in the world are so many on the right attacking the family ofGraeme Frost?" He continues, "The real issue here is whether uninsuredfamilies with earnings similar to the Frosts' need government help tobuy health coverage," and with the "average family policy inemployer-provided plans now costing more than $12,000 annually -- theprice is usually higher for families trying to buy it on their own --the answer is plainly yes." Dionne concludes, "All the conservativeattacks on a boy from Baltimore who dared to speak out will not makethis issue go away" (Dionne, Washington Post, 10/12).
Letters to the Editor
- Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.), Charlotte Observer:When SCHIP began in 1997, "I supported it," and "I still support" it,but this bill "has lost its focus" because it "opens up avenues forillegal immigrants, wealthier families and adults to be covered,"Myrick writes in an Observer letter to the editorresponding to an Oct. 4 editorial. She adds, "We need to work togetheras Americans in a bipartisan way to correct" these problems, becausethis "particular bill was not considered by any committee in Congress,and ... it promotes too much government involvement in family healthcare decisions." She continues, "I support SCHIP enhancements, but notthis misunderstood bill" (Myrick, Charlotte Observer, 10/11).
- Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), Chicago Tribune:"A 'second look at the facts' reveals more than a few problems with"the SCHIP bill, which would modify a program that originally was"designed to provide health care for low-income children," Biggertwrites in a letter to the editor in response to an Oct. 5 Tribuneeditorial. She continues, "But in Illinois, 45% of the SCHIP recipientsare adults -- not children," adding that "[a]ccording to the state'sprojections," the state will spend "more SCHIP money on adults than onchildren during the next fiscal year." Biggert concludes, "I would likenothing better than to vote for a good SCHIP bill. Let's quit thepolitical nonsense and pass a compromise that puts needy children firstand pays for it honestly" (Biggert, Chicago Tribune, 10/11).
- Jim Wordelman, Idaho Statesman:"AARP believes that SCHIP is a smart and affordable way to reduce thenumber of uninsured people in this country," and "paying for children'shealth coverage with a tobacco tax could help improve the health of theentire country by reducing smoking at all ages," Wordelman, statedirector for AARP Idaho, writes in a Statesman letter to the editor (Idaho Statesman, 10/10).
- Edward Langston, USA Today:"It is unconscionable that in a country as prosperous as the UnitedStates is, the number of uninsured children has increased by nearly onemillion over the past two years," Langston, board chair of the American Medical Association, writes in a USA Todayletter to the editor. He says that is "critical" for Congress toreauthorize SCHIP "so that the 6.6 million children who rely on theprogram aren't forced to join the swelling ranks of the uninsured"(Langston, USA Today, 10/12).
- Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Wall Street Journal: "We were dismayed by the mischaracterization" in a Sept. 28 Journal editorialon the SCHIP reauthorization legislation, Hatch and Grassley write in aletter to the editor. They continue, "You did not accurately portraythe work and diligence that went into crafting this truly bipartisancompromise, which passed the Senate twice with 18 Republican senatorsvoting 'aye.'" The senators conclude, "This is not an entitlementprogram. The legislation passed by the House would have turned SCHIPinto an uncapped entitlement, but the compromise bill maintains theSenate position for a capped block grant" (Hatch/Grassley, Wall Street Journal, 10/12).
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.