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News of the Day ... In Perspective

10/17/2007

Congress pressured to override SCHIP veto; vote could come Oct 18

President Bush having vetoed the renewal of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)—with its numerous accompaniments—the AMA is pressuring Congress to override the veto.

The bill as passed does not simply extend the program, but continues to chip away at private insurance, turning an even greater proportion of the younger generation into government dependents. A recent study showed that for every ten new children enrolled in SCHIP, private coverage declines by six: a 60% crowd-out rate (David Hogberg, National Policy Analysis, September 2007).

“As more and more people drop their private coverage in favor of SCHIP, people who still have private coverage will increasingly feel that they, too, are entitled to have government-provided insurance coverage for their children,” writes Hogberg. “It may be that this is the intent of those supporting the expansion of SCHIP.”

The President objected to forcing taxpayers to buy coverage for children whose families earn as much as $80,000, and also to funding through a regressive tax on cigarettes.

The program is already unfair, Hogberg argues, because the federal government spends proportionally more money for children covered by SCHIP than for poorer children covered by Medicaid ($2 for every state dollar for SCHIP vs. $1.2 for Medicaid). The new proposal compounds the unfairness in that people with incomes under 200% of the federal poverty level smoke more and would thus be subsidizing health insurance for more affluent children.

To raise enough revenue would require 22 million new smokers, according to Americans for Prosperity.

Others complain of the social-engineering aspects of the bill. It would withdraw SCHIP support for pregnant women and their unborn children, would remove Title V abstinence-education funding, and would pay for abortion-causing drugs, writes AAPS Director Robert J. Cihak, M.D. (Newsmax 9/17/07)

Along with airing multimillion-dollar television ads in key congressional districts, the AMA is urging its members to call the AMA Grassroots Hotline (800) 833-6354. But instead of telling their Congressmen to override the veto, some are asking them to pass a new bill that cuts out all waivers and treats children in all states “fairly and evenly.”

AMA Executive Vice President Michael Maves, M.D., M.B.A., also teamed up with AARP CEO William D. Novelli to call for overriding the veto.

The Capitol Hill switchboard can be reached at (202) 224-3121. Individual telephone numbers and email addresses can be located through http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/

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