On October 3, 2007, President Bush followed through on his earlier threat by vetoing a bill (H.R. 976) to reauthorize and expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), despite broad bipartisan support. SCHIP is an important federal program that provides healthcare coverage to children in low-income families, including families affected by bleeding disorders. The President cited the cost of the bill and the potential for insured children to seek coverage under SCHIP as some of the reasons for the veto. A statement issued by the White House following the veto described the expansion of the SCHIP program as “part of the Democrats' incremental plan toward government-run health care for all Americans.” The President’s veto follows an earlier attempt by the administration to prevent states from expanding SCHIP on their own.
The bill increases funding for SCHIP by $35 billion to roughly $60 billion for five years, which would cover 10 million low-income children. It also raises the income eligibility requirements so that more children can qualify. The additional funding would be paid for by a 61 cents per pack increase in the tobacco tax. In the House, the bill passed with a vote of 265-159; in the Senate, it passed by a vote of 69-30.
House Democratic leaders are postponing an override vote on the SCHIP veto until October 18, 2007, to allow time to build support for the measure. Although the reauthorization bill passed by a substantial majority, the vote on the House side fell short of the two-thirds needed for an override.
The National Hemophilia Foundation is asking all members of the community to urge their elected representatives to vote yes on an override. Although it is important to send this message to all members of Congress, it is critical that we reach out to those who originally voted against the reauthorization.
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