This week the House and Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass a bill to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The House of Representatives passed the bill, H.R. 976, on Tuesday by a margin of 265 to 159. The Senate followed suit on Thursday, with a bipartisan vote of 67 to 29.
The SCHIP reauthorization bill will provide an additional $35 billion over 5 years to provide health insurance to 4 million more children from low and moderate income families, including hundreds of thousands of eligible children with disabilities.
The Administration said today that President Bush is planning to veto the bill on Monday or Tuesday of next week. The President says he will veto the bill because its goes over the amount he proposed for SCHIP in his FY 2008 budget. The President's budget would result in a drastic cut because states will have insufficient federal funding to sustain their existing SCHIP programs. The House is unlikely to be able to override the President's veto.
A veto of the SCHIP bill would be a terrible loss for children with disabilities. Here is what is at stake:1) Health insurance for children in families with incomes up 250% of the federal poverty level. 2) No exclusion from coverage due to pre-existing conditions.3) Coverage of dental care.4) Parity for mental health services.5) A provision for a 6-month moratorium on proposed Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regulations on Medicaid's rehabilitation option and school based services for Medicaid-eligible children with disabilities. These regulations would result in billions of dollars in cuts for services for children with disabilities.
Fortunately, support for the SCHIP bill is extremely strong and growing. Supporters include not only broad-based health and welfare organizations, but health insurance and medical industry groups (such as America's Health Insurance Plans and the American Medical Association) as well as a significant number of Republican lawmakers.
If we act now to persuade President Bush to sign the SCHIP bill, we can avoid a veto showdown.
Please send an email to President Bush this weekend. ** Please be sure to tailor the sample message provided. Select from among the choices provided to describe yourself or use your own words (recommended). The more you personalize your message, the more effective it is**