Override president on children’s health insurance bill
The president has kept his promise to veto a measure to provide coverage for children.
PRESIDENT Bush's veto of a bill that would have allowed about 4 million of the 9 million American children who don't have health insurance to get coverage is no surprise.
Neither is his mendacious defense of blackballing the rare bipartisan legislation.
In typical fashion, Bush argues with half- and stretched-out truths. That's because the veto is indefensible.
Though the Senate passed the State Children's Health Insurance Program with enough votes to override, the House is about two dozen short. Members aligned with Bush's ideological position should reconsider, and the president, who spurned congressional offers for collaboration, should come up with an acceptable alternative.
Bush stubbornly refused to compromise when his plan for tax breaks for "gap-group" children -- those whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but cannot afford to buy insurance on their own -- was deemed unfeasible. A tax exemption for buying insurance is no good when you can't pay for it in the first place.
The president's spurious talking points are amazing. He claims that the bill will pay insurance costs for wealthier children whose families earn $83,000 a year while shutting out the poorest.
That figure springs from an earlier request from New York to increase income levels in a state where living costs are as high as Hawaii's and it was rejected by his administration. Further, the new bill limited such expansions and contained provisions to spur states to enroll the lowest-income children who haven't yet been reached.
Bush also asserts the bill amounted to federalized health care and inserted the government between doctor and patient. Not true. The program is run by states that negotiate for coverage with private insurance companies. Nothing in the bill dictated the government must decide on medical treatment.
Finally, Bush argues that the $35 billion increase in funding is just too much money. His proposal of $5 billion would not have even kept pace with inflation and rising medical costs and for a president whose generous tax cuts and whose administration has erased a budget surplus, crying for frugality now seems incongruous.
Recent polls have shown that an overwhelming majority of people -- 72 percent, according to a Washington Post-ABC News survey -- favor the measure. But the president doggedly refuses to acknowledge the will of Americans on this issue as he does on the war in Iraq, which he contends is key to the nation's security. He fails to recognize that security of the nation's children also is in jeopardy when it comes to lack of health care.
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