Playing Politics With Children's Health

George Bush is threatening to veto the bipartisan extension of the State Children Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) mainly because he says, falsely, that it will expand coverage to those making as much as $83,000 a year.

The Administration strongly supports reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) which maintains SCHIP’s original purpose of targeting health care dollars to low-income children who need them most. However, the current bill goes too far toward federalizing health care and turns a program meant to help low-income children into one that covers children in some households with incomes of up to $83,000 a year. If H.R. 976 were presented to the President in its current form, he would veto the bill.

The problem with President Bush’s claim is that it has no basis in fact and comes from a New York request that was intended to cover households in high cost of living areas that never actually made it into the final bill. In reality it specifically ensures that low income children are first in line for benefits.

So why is President Bush so against this legislation and better yet why is he blaming Democrats for putting children’s heath at risk by asking for an increase in coverage? Stephanie Herseth Sandlin is wondering the same thing.

President Bush was off base when he accused Democrats of “putting health care coverage for poor children at risk” and playing politics on proposed changes to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, says Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sand-lin, D-S.D.

“That’s a really unreasonable statement,” Herseth Sandlin said of Bush’s comment on Thursday.

The SCHIP legislation will increase the spending on the program by $35 billion over 5 years and will be paid for with a 61 cent a pack increase of the federal cigarette tax so again the question needs to be asked, who is really playing politics at the expense of children?

On a similar note, Bill Harlan over at Blogmore had a great comment on the proposed cigarette tax increase that would fund this program.

How to pay for it? A South Dakota-like solution! Raise the federal cigarette tax from 39 cents to $1 per pack. Couple that with South Dakota’s own cigarette-tax increase and some smokers here might switch to crack to save money.

I guess I picked a good time to quit smoking and if this bill eventually becomes law, South Dakota’s reported shortfall in tax revenue from cigarettes could be just a minor blip compared to what will happen if the taxes get raised again…

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