Take Action on CHIP!

As I've mentioned previously, the Senate Finance Committee is considering a $35 billion expansion to the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP or CHIP), which is currently scheduled to expire in September. Incredibly enough, President Bush has already declared that he will veto such a bill. This is the same president who, just a year ago from tomorrow, used his first veto after five and a half years of office on, of all things, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. It appears, then, that the President will be the most significant obstacle to overcome in passing an expansion of CHIP, and unfortunately the only solution may be electing a new (Democratic) president in 2008.

But, first things first.

Before it reaches the President's desk, the CHIP expansion will have to make it out of committee in the Senate, and it will have to pass in both houses of Congress. To that end, the Partnership for Quality Care has launched an advertising campaign called Cover Kids Now and will be airing ads such as these across the nation to build support and to raise awareness about its letter-writing campaign:

Here's more from the press release:

"SCHIP has been exceptionally successful, helping millions of children receive the preventive care that keeps them healthy, and we believe it should help millions more uninsured children," said George C. Halvorson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals. "As this campaign illustrates, the PQC is an unprecedented coalition of providers and workers who have come together to solve the crisis of healthcare in our nation, The PQC supports guaranteed healthcare for everyone in America, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it is the smart thing to do."

"As healthcare workers and providers, we think less smoking and healthier kids is a win-win," said Dennis Rivera, leader of million-member SEIU Healthcare, and PQC Chairman. "The PQC wants to ensure that everyone has access to healthcare of the highest quality, and SCHIP has done that for millions of children. Using an increased tobacco tax to finance the reauthorization of this program, as was done when SCHIP was first created in 1997, will also have the added benefit of decreasing smoking, especially among our youth."

"There are almost nine million uninsured children in the United States, and every day our providers see children in emergency rooms for complications that could have been avoided with more cost-effective and timely care," said Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) President Kenneth E. Raske. "I can think of no more important goal than making sure every child in the United States has health insurance, and protecting and expanding SCHIP funding is a critical step towards achieving that goal."

You can learn more and send a letter to your Congressman and Senator here.

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What is Bush's rationale for promising the veto? I mean, I dislike Bush as much as the next rational human being, but surely even he can't so Voldemort-ish as to veto the bill simply because he doesn't think poor children should get health care. Is he as deep in the tobacco industry's pocket as he is in other industries? Does he think the religious right will condemn him to Hell for helping the poor? Is he pathologically afraid of anything that might raise taxes even a smidgen?

I thought I had read somewhere that his rationale was that it was being paid for perhaps too heavily by an increase in the federal cigarette tax. As if that's a bad thing. "Children's health? Bad! Cigarettes? Good!" says the Republican.