House Passes Watered-Down SCHIP Law; Bush Threatens Veto

Colorado’s Congressional delegation once again split down party lines Thursday as the U.S. House passed a revised version of a bill to reauthorize the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

  Colorado Democratic Reps. Mark Udall, John Salazar and Ed Perlmutter voted in favor of the bill, which they say addresses the concerns raised by President Bush when he vetoed the first version. Although 43 Republicans also voted in favor of the bill, none of Colorado’s GOP representatives were among them. Reps. Doug Lamborn and Marilyn Musgrave voted against the measure, and Rep. Tom Tancredo missed the vote while campaigning in Iowa. Democratic Congresswoman and strong SCHIP supporter Diana DeGette was also absent for the vote.

SCHIP provides health insurance to children whose families earn too much too qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private insurance. The 10-year-old program expired Sept. 30 and is operating on temporary funding, which is set to run out Nov. 16. The Senate is expected to pass the revised bill, but President Bush has once again threatened to veto it, saying it doesn’t go far enough in ensuring only poor children would be eligible.

Statements on the passage of the bill from Colorado’s Democratic representatives:

Udall: “I consider the protection of the health of our nation’s children to be one of the most important domestic issues of this or any other year. I strongly disagreed with the President’s veto of the original bill and was deeply disappointed by Congress’ inability to override that veto. The priority we place on ensuring that children in this country have access to the medical care they need is a reflection of the values of this Congress, this President and this nation. This issue is too important to fall victim to political games and partisan posturing. Therefore, I joined my colleagues in voting to meet the President half-way with this revised bill.  Because the bill addresses each of the President’s stated reasons for his original veto, I urge him to do right by kids of working families in this country and sign this bill into law.”

Perlmutter: “This current bill puts children first by addressing concerns raised by a minority of Republicans in the House and the President in an effort to provide health care to 10 million lower income children nationwide. We owe it to the more than 15,000 low income children enrolled in the CHIP program from Colorado’s 7 th Congressional District to put politics aside and reauthorize this vital program.”

Salazar: “It is time now for the President to put partisan bickering aside and sign this legislation into law.”

Statement from the White House on the reasons President Bush is against the bill:

1. The Democrats’ new legislation continues to allow States to avoid covering poor children first. 

2. The Democrats’ new legislation continues to cover children in families earning more than $62,000 per year (300 percent of the Federal poverty level). 

3. The Democrats’ new legislation continues to raise taxes to move 2 million children covered by private health insurance onto government-run programs with fewer choices and longer lines. 

4. The Democrats’ new legislation continues to allow SCHIP to cover ineligible individuals.

5. The Democrats’ new legislation shifts more responsibility to the Federal government.