House Democrats Fail To Override SCHIP Veto

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State Children's Health Insurance Program

The House on Wednesdayvoted 260-152 to override President Bush's veto of SCHIP expansion legislation(HR 3963), falling 15 votes short of the two-third majority required, the New York Times reports (Pear, New York Times,1/24).

The legislation would have expanded the program to cover 10 million childrenand increased spending on the program by $35 billion over five years, fundedwith a 61-cent-per-pack increase of the federal cigarette tax. It also wouldhave limited coverage to children in families with annual incomes below 300% ofthe federal poverty level. Bush vetoed another version of the bill in October2007 (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report,1/23).

The vote marks the second failure in three months by House Democrats tooverride a Bush veto of legislation to expand the program (AP/USA Today, 1/24). In the latest attempt, 42 Republicansvoted to override the veto, two fewer than in the first override vote (Lee, Washington Post, 1/24). Only one Democrat voted to sustain the veto, Rep. Jim Marshall (Ga.) (Miller, Washington Times, 1/24).

Democrats had been pushing the legislation as a "plan to jump-start the flagging economy," but their attempts failed to garner more support from Republicans, CQ Today reports (Wayne, CQ Today, 1/23). House Democrats said they expect to revisit SCHIP this year, possibly in legislation that would reverse a new HHS rule requiring states to cover 95% of low-income children before expanding coverage to higher-income families (Johnson, CongressDaily, 1/23). According to CQ Today, "Democrats consider SCHIP's expansion a powerful political issue and may seek to force Republicans to vote on it again before the November elections" (CQ Today, 1/23).

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Democratic Comments

Rep. Carolyn Maloney(D-N.Y.) said, "Worsening economic conditions will increase demand for [SCHIP]and Medicaid. A million more children a year may need public healthinsurance" (New York Times, 1/24). House Ways and Means Committee Chair Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) said,"With the economy taking a sour turn, now is not the time to deny the mostinnocent and helpless Americans -- children whose parents can't afford healthinsurance -- what they so desperately need."

Republican Comments

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas),ranking member of the House Energy andCommerce Committee,said, "There is no child currently on SCHIP that is going to losecoverage, regardless of the vote" because Congress last month approvedlegislation to fund the program through March 2009 (Washington Post,1/24). Barton said, "Republicans' position is: Continue the existingprogram, perhaps expand coverage somewhat for families above 200% of povertyand cover every child in the country under 200% of poverty" (CQToday, 1/23).

House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said, "We will not stand for thisbait-and-switch tactic that is aimed more at paving the way to government-runhealth care than making sure poor kids have access to adequate care,"adding, "This is our eighth vote to drastically expand SCHIP, and allwe've seen different on the House floor are different talking points being usedto sell the same bad policy" (Washington Times, 1/24).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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