The SCHIP Hits the Fan

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Bush Administration, Congress, Health Care

That’s Dan Froomkin’s headline, but it was too good not to steal.

I’ve written about S-CHIP before, so I’m going to skip the background and go right to the update. Yesterday the House approved S-CHIP legislation. Tony Pugh writes for McClatchy Newspapers:

In one of the biggest congressional health care votes since 2003, the House of Representatives voted 265 to 159 to reauthorize and expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program by $35 billion over five years.

But the victory tally fell short of the tally needed to override a promised veto of the measure by President Bush.

Forty-five Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the bill that provides health coverage for 3.8 million uninsured children and has the support of most health industry organizations as well as most of the nation’s governors, religious leaders and patient advocacy groups.

But expanding government programs to cover more uninsured Americans has proven ideologically intolerable to President Bush and to many House Republicans, whose opposition left the legislation well short of a veto-proof, two-thirds majority despite an all-out push by hundreds of lobbyists.

I just learned that one of the handful of Dems who voted against it was Dennis Kucinich. Jerid at Buckeye State Blog writes that Kucinich won’t vote for any health care measure other than his own universal coverage bill. Rosemary Palmer, a Democrat who is challenging Kucinich in the primary next year, said,

On one hand, President Bush vows to veto the bill, and on the other, Dennis Kucinich votes against it because he doesn’t think it is perfect. This is a perfect example of what is presently wrong with Washington decision-making. Polarizing positions work against functional compromise resulting in a government that cannot serve in the nation’s best interest. While fringe politicians like President Bush and Congressman Kucinich rant like petulant children, the nation remains stagnant and desperately needing effective leadership. Unfortunately, children in Northeast Ohio and around the country will pay the price for their obstinate actions.

I believe Kucinich also had a problem because House Democrats agreed to drop language from the bill that would have allowed foreign-born children who are here legally to obtain coverage. Apparently this was a sop to right-wingers who feared SCHIP benefits might go to illegal aliens in spite of identification requirements. The provision for legal immigrants was being called ” a gaping loophole to allow states to give taxpayer benefits to illegal immigrants” by ring-wing congress critters like Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee).

You know the rightie principle — better to let American citizens do without than allow one thin dime of taxpayer money benefit illegals. Back in the day we called that attitude “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

Back to Tony Pugh:

A vote on the measure is expected Thursday in the Senate where a two-thirds majority is likely. The bill will then go to President Bush who is expected to veto it. In the interim, Democrats will temporarily fund the program, possibly through mid-November, until a long-term funding agreement can be reached, according to a senior Democratic aide.

Dan Froomkin:

President Bush may be courting the ultimate presidential indignity — a Congressional override — with his threatened veto of a bill to expand poor children’s health care access, which many members of his own party enthusiastically support.

Bush is still able to bully Congressional Democrats when it comes to the war and national security. But, in the realm of domestic politics, he’s the archetypal lame duck. About the only power he has left is the veto — and then, only if he can maintain enough Republican backing to sustain it.

Yet, astonishingly enough, Bush not only remains dead-set on vetoing the popular child health-care initiative, he’s once again pushing a dead-on-arrival proposal to give tax breaks to people who buy private insurance. Even some leading Republicans are agog.

The House vote suggests that overriding the veto is a long shot. Karen Tumulty writes at Swampland:

We’ve discussed before why this is a fight President Bush is likely to regret having won–and why millions of uninsured children are likely to regret it even more. Now, with House passage of the children’s health insurance bill having fallen about two dozen votes short of a veto-proof majority, it appears the bill is indeed headed for doom because of what Bush’s HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt has called “the ideologic question.”

Democrats have been handed what could be a powerful issue going into an election year in which health care ranks at the top of voters’ domestic concerns. The bill got 45 Republican votes in the House–a sharp increase from the five who supported the original House version of the bill and more than some of its sponsors expected. That isn’t much consolation to all those children, though. Which is why Nancy Pelosi vows this won’t be the end of it.

An example of the nonsense going on surrounding this bill is provided by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The Georgia congressional delegation split on the vote:

Republicans opposed it, Democrats supported it, and the only exception was Rep. Jim Marshall, a Macon Democrat, who voted against the expansion. Marshall is one of the most vulnerable congressmen in the country is once again facing a strong Republican challenge in next year’s congressional elections.

PeachCare, funded through SCHIP, has been successful and popular in Georgia so state Republicans were careful to praise PeachCare while denouncing SCHIP, which provides health insurance for poor kids, as a first step toward socialized medicine.

Is that slick, or what?

“Reauthorizing SCHIP is essential,” Rep. Tom Price, a Roswell Republican, said. But “I was forced to oppose the bill.”

“The reality is this bill does not protect the most vulnerable amongst our citizens,” said Rep. Phil Gingrey, a Marietta Republican. “Rather it diverts precious resources from those who need it the most in order to cover adults and already privately insured children.”

As explained by Jeanne Lambrew at the Center for American Progress, Gingrey’s charges are bogus. The bill does not expand coverage to adults, and the charge that the bill would divert money from poor children to less needy children comes from data promoted by Secretary Mike Leavitt of the Department of Health and Human Services that has been widely discredited, in particular by the Congressional Budget Office. See Lambrew for details.

The Senate bill is expected to pass tomorrow.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Swami  •  Sep 26, 2007 @12:08 pm

    Gates is going to ask for 190 billion dollars for Iraq..and he’ll probably get it with only the minimal of objectional murmurings coming from the Congress. America needs to look at itself and reassess its values and priorities. The SCHIP program would cost less than 90 days expenditure of supporting the lie in Iraq.

  2. Bonnie  •  Sep 26, 2007 @2:12 pm

    The outgoing Director of Indian Health Service, part of DHHS, told that lie about SCHIP covering adults in one of his last meetings with the employees. When he said that, I whispered loudly (I guess), “That’s a lie.” Several people around me turned at looked at me. And, I just responded, “Well, it is a lie.” He is the “outgoing” Director because when his confirmation came up the Tribal Councils all over Indian Country bombarded the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs with emails, telephone calls, faxes, snail mail, and perhaps even some smoke signals. It was an overwhelming “No to Dr. Grim.” He had cut the programs and clinics too much. He was the third and worst director I have worked for.

  3. felicity  •  Sep 26, 2007 @2:34 pm

    Kucinich wants the insurance industry out of the health-care industry, which it isn’t with SCHIP. He has a point.

  4. maha  •  Sep 26, 2007 @3:02 pm

    felicity — he has a point, but while he’s grandstanding children are going without medical care. Of course, his vote alone won’t give the House a veto-proof majority, so maybe he figured his grandstanding didn’t matter.

  5. Doug Hughes  •  Sep 26, 2007 @8:36 pm

    His grandstanding matters – to me. When I vote, I want a president who will get things done. Politics is the art of comprimise; Dennis is a Menace because he won’t.

  6. Steve from Canuckistan  •  Sep 26, 2007 @10:00 pm

    Wonder where the fetus people and god Nazis stand on the health care to poor children issue. Wouldn’t be surprised if they’re with Bush. True hypocrites all.

  7. Jeanne from Idaho  •  Oct 3, 2007 @4:19 pm

    It sounds like Bush is a cold-hearted jerk because he vetoed the SCHIP program. He’s not as cold-hearted or the jerk the media and Democrat representatives are making him out to be. The SCHIP bill, AS WRITTEN, would also provide free medical benefits to children of illegal aliens because the bill is basically a blanket coverage. Bush would be derelict in his duty to the American people if he had not vetoed this bill. For the majority of legal citizens of the U.S., there already is Medicaid and SSI available for children and adults, paid for by taxpayers (you and me) and Medicare for the elderly. They receive these benefits because they are legal citizens and are in need and/or have worked all their lives with taxes taken from their paychecks. The medical association supports SCHIP because it’s money in their pockets. Believe me, this has little to do with the heartfelt longing to help AMERICAN children living in poverty, it has to do with getting the Mexican votes. In reality, Mexican illegals can pool their money for brand new pickups to “tool” around in but they can’t be bothered to pool their money for their sick kids because there’s a good chance you and I will pay instead. I live in Idaho which is a state of employers of illegals, and I’ve watched this as a standard for 30 years. Mexicans laugh at us for it.

  8. DoubleCinco  •  Oct 3, 2007 @4:58 pm

    Jeanne, Jeanne, Jeanne,

    Where do I start dreary? Let’s see, first of all, bubba George will never permit/support anything that could possibly a) change the balance of power for the WHITE CHRISTIANIST MALE, b) change the balance of power for the CORPORATE OVERLORDS, and c) let undocumented workers own GRINGO PRICKUPS like he does. Tu Sabes?

    Second: Come on down to the border (I’m in Texas) and live with the people awhile and if you have capacity in that bigoted brain of yours, try talking to the people who have traveled hundreds if not thousands of miles so that their families back home or so that they can find hope and possibility for the future. Try to see the desperation in their eyes, the determination and the ability to work hard for low pay.

    Sure there are abuses of every system and sure when you build it they will come, meaning that if there is a way to wire around the meter then most human beings will, and where you live and where I live some do. But the plight of Central Americans and Mexican is poverty and oppression. Have you checked that mote in your own eye recently.

    And if you have anything left, then consider the existential and economic suction there is to al Norte and put yourself in their huraches. Looking over the fence at well being and security when you have none is freakin’ awful.

    To you I can only lament, Los gringos otra vez!

  9. biggerbox  •  Oct 3, 2007 @5:15 pm

    Jeane, it does not.

    Don’t take my word for it, take the word of Republican Senator from Iowa and ranking member of the Senate Finance committee:

    This is a bill that improves coverage for kids who are poor. This bill does not make it easer for illegal immigrants to get benefits. The bill clearly states that funds cannot go to illegal immigrants. The desperate efforts I heard on the House side to suggest the bill makes it easier for illegal immigrants to get benefits simply strains credibility. The bill does not extend eligibility for LEGAL immigrant children or pregnant women. The bill does not make CHIP an entitlement.

    Frankly, I think I’ll take the word of someone who has actually read the bill over you, who obviously hasn’t.

  10. biggerbox  •  Oct 3, 2007 @7:05 pm

    Oh, and by the way,

    this has little to do with the heartfelt longing to help AMERICAN children living in poverty, it has to do with getting the Mexican votes.

    Mexicans can’t vote. (Except in Mexico.) If they’re voting, they’re Americans.

  11. Swami  •  Oct 3, 2007 @7:37 pm

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’d rather see my tax dollars going to provide medical coverage for illegal Mexican children, or any other nationality of children instead of going for armaments and bombs to kill Iraqi children.
    We’ve pissed away nearly a trillion dollars on carnage and destruction in Iraq, and yet there is no money in our house to care for gods children? Maybe it’s time for some soul searching.

    http://sabbah.biz/mt/wp-content/Tal_Afar_Iraq.jpg

  12. Pat  •  Oct 4, 2007 @12:49 am

    #7. Jeanne.:

    That is as ignorant a post as I’ve come across in a long time.

    “Bush would be derelict in his duty to the American people if he had not vetoed this bill.”

    So Bush can be derelict in his enforrcement of immigration laws so that when he is derelict in establishing health care as a basic right of all citizens he will not be considered derelict????

    Where do you find these lies? I seriously doubt you have worked this out yourself. You sound more than a little ethnophobic, almost hysterically so.

    “The medical association supports SCHIP because it’s money in their pockets. Believe me, this has little to do with the heartfelt longing to help AMERICAN children living in poverty, it has to do with getting the Mexican votes. ”

    Would you care to demonstrate how you came to that conclusion. It is anecdotal, I know, but the vast majority of doctors I’m acquainted with really did go into the profession because they want to help people and they often lament, regret and even despair at the state of health care in America. They simply want to see something that works.

    Shame on you, that this not only fails to penetrate your self-imposed exile from rationality and humanity but that you rely on a vile sense of the worthiness of others.

    “Mexican illegals can pool their money for brand new pickups to “tool” around in but they can’t be bothered to pool their money for their sick kids because there’s a good chance you and I will pay instead. I live in Idaho which is a state of employers of illegals, and I’ve watched this as a standard for 30 years. Mexicans laugh at us for it. ”

    Yeah, sure. That’s the ticket. It’s all those Mexicans wanting something for nothing. I know quite a few Mexicans and the vast majority I know work 2-3 jobs for dirt cheap wages. You are on acid or fantasizing a “generalized Mexican other” that you use to justify the neglect of those that have been trampled down to the barely survivable bottom rung of our societal ladder.

    It’s those Mexicans at it again with their Mexican ways, trying to get what is yours. Not only does this hateful diatribe not square with the truth is smacks of paranoia. I suppose that if you can’t think of yourself being better than these unworthy, ungrateful Mexicans then who are you better than?

    Your perspective truly saddens me and short of being able to help you I must say what I think about it. Peace.

  13. Pat  •  Oct 4, 2007 @1:05 am

    Jeanne seems a bit ignorant, gullible and cognitively challenged so I suspect she has been put up to this in a sense. However, the ease with which she willingly accepts arguments based on the worthlessness of others is another thing altogether. Surely some personal responsibility is in order on that account.

    There are a lot of extreme right’leaning, hateful, disinformation emails circulating the Internet saying precisely what has been parroted here by Jeanne. My wife received one which we thoroughly debunked in a reply to the sender (well, forwarder…these are invented and originally sent by evil geniuses from undisclosed locations). There are various manifestations of this scare tactic and plenty of people with overactive limbic systems who frek out rayally and the slightest hint of a threat of almost any kind.

    Jeanne, please be up-front about this by sharing your source for this information. If it is true there should be nothing to be fear.

  14. Pat  •  Oct 4, 2007 @1:30 am

    Sorry for blogificating so but I ftext ound one of the 3 manifestations of similar disinformation scams, I’ve seen. My Mom gets them from some conservative relative in FL and she sends them to me for the entertainment and comedic value, though they often want to make me puke.

    This one is in regard to social security but they are all racist at the core and intend to incite fear and anger at the expense of other groups. Only with plausible deniability from which no attributions can occur will the right expose their seamy underbelly like this:

    ======
    It does not matter if you personally like or dislike Bush. You need
    to sign this petition and flood his e-mail box with e-mails that tell
    him that, even if the House passes this bill, he needs to veto it. It
    is already impossible to live on Social Security alone. If the
    government gives benefits to “illegal” aliens who have never
    contributed, where does that leave those of us who have paid
    into Social Security all our working lives? The Senate voted this
    week to allow “illegal” aliens access to Social Security benefits.
    Below is an opportunity to sign a petition that requires citizenship
    for eligibility to that social service.

    Instructions are below.

    If you don’t forward the petition and just stop it, we will lose all
    these names. If you do not want to sign it, please just forward it
    to everyone you know.
    Thank you!
    =====

    Btw, this distortion was debunked at :

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/immigration/socialsecurity.asp

    However, these things can cause damage given the number of susceptibly fearful people out there like Jeanne. On the other hand the ease at which some jump on these sick, ignorant talking points says something about those who drink the kool-aid.



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