Deal on children's health bill sets up veto showdown
Despite a clear veto threat from President Bush, Democratic and Republican negotiators on Friday announced a breakthrough deal on the children's health insurance program, agreeing to expand the initiative by $35 billion in an attempt to provide health care to million more uninsured children.
The agreement sets up a major showdown with the White House over a key domestic policy initiative backed by Democrats as well as a growing number of GOP moderates. The House will vote on the bill Tuesday and the Senate could vote as early as Wednesday. President Bush has promised to veto the legislation, and even though the Senate has the votes to override Bush's veto, the House does not yet have the votes for an override. It takes a two-thirds vote in both chambers to override a presidential veto.
The expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) will be funded by a 61 cent increase per pack of cigarettes. While conservative Republicans, along with President Bush, have said they will never support any tax increase, plenty of Republicans in both chambers seem to find a tobacco tax increase more palatable than virtually any other potential tax hike.
Under a deal announced Friday afternoon, dental coverage, along with mental health benefits, will be provided to all children eligible for the SCHIP program. Pregnant women will also receive expanded coverage under the deal. The program, which currently covers 6.6 million uninsured children, could provide benefits to up to four million more children.
The joint announcement by Senate and House leaders released Friday also pointed out that children of higher income families will not receive the SCHIP benefits. President Bush, in his press conference yesterday, complained that congressional negotiators wanted to provide the health benefits to children in families making about $80,000, but several lawmakers pointed out that there is no such provision in the legislation.
Moderate Republicans like Ray LaHood of Illinois are hoping Bush doesn't veto the bill.
"This is a good bipartisan compromise to help the millions of uninsured children in our country," LaHood said. "Whatever financial strains a family may endure, it should have no impact on the type and quality of care their child receives for health related matters. I support this bill and will encourage my Republican colleagues to do the same."
Of course Bush is going to veto it. Can't have children being covered by insurance. Oh, there's money for his War Profiteering buddies in Iraq, but making sure that children have health insurance, well we can't have that, can we? We can spend 400 Billion in Iraq, and Billions of that has been wasted,if not out and out stolen and just looted by his friends, but 35 Billion to make sure that children are healthy - can't have that. Suddenly he become a fiscal conservative. Wouldn't want those children to be healthy. If they weren't born to a well-off family, then why do they deserve health care? Where are the pro-lifers on this? Where are they on the health of children already here?
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