President Bush Vetoes SCHIP Reauthorization

Armen Hareyan's picture

State Children's HealthInsurance Program

President Bush on Wednesdayvetoed legislation that would have reauthorized and expanded SCHIP, the NewYork Timesreports. Lawmakers sent Bush the bill 10 days ago, and he had until Wednesdayto veto it or allow it to become law (Gay Stolberg, New York Times,12/13). The legislation (HR 3963) would have expanded the program to cover 10million children and increased spending on the program by $35 billion over fiveyears, funded with a 61-cent-per-pack increase in the federal cigarette tax. Itwould have limited coverage to children in families with annual incomes below300% of the federal poverty level. Bush vetoed another version of the bill inOctober (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 11/5).

Bush said that he vetoed the legislation for the same reasons as the firstSCHIP bill: It raised taxes and provided health care coverage for children inmiddle-income families rather than focusing on children in lower-incomefamilies (Lee, Washington Post, 12/13). Bush in a statement said, "This bill does not put poor children first, and it moves our country's health care system in the wrong direction," adding, "Ultimately, our nation's goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage, not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage" (Lengell, Washington Times, 12/13).


SCHIP Prospects,Extension

House Democrats havescheduled a veto override vote for Jan. 23, 2008 (Loven, AP/DenverPost,12/13). Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who has supported the SCHIP bills, said heis unwilling to end discussions on a compromise bill. "I remain hopefulthat we will be able to reach a compromise with the House by lateJanuary," Hatch said (Canham, Salt Lake Tribune, 12/13).

When vetoing the bill, Bush urged lawmakers to pass a temporary extension ofthe program before the holiday break. Lawmakers on Wednesday said that theyintend to pass an extension of SCHIP "well into 2008 in basically itscurrent form," according to the AP/Post. House MajorityLeader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that lawmakers on Thursday will include theSCHIP extension in a bill that will make revisions to Medicare. Hoyer declinedto provide an estimate of the cost or the length of the extension, but he notedthat lawmakers "obviously need to put additional money" into theprogram to account for state budgetary shortfalls (AP/Denver Post,12/13).

Both the Democratic and Republican Medicare packages include an extension ofSCHIP, CongressDaily reports. Funding for the program expires on Friday(Armstrong, CQ Today, 12/12). The Congressional Budget Office said thatcovering state shortfalls will cost $800 million (Johnson/Koffler,CongressDaily, 12/12).

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