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Child Healthcare Insurance Legislation vetoed by U.S. President

Bush vetoes healthcare bill
Photo Credit: www.sxc.hu

The current State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) has had a legislative bill which would have expanded the scope of the program, vetoed by President George W. Bush. After the bill passed with a majority in both the House of Representatives (265-159) and the Senate (67-29) the bill was vetoed because Mr. Bush argued -

it takes the programme beyond its original purpose of insuring children from low-income familes.
Source - BBC News Online

According to the legislative process in the United States, if a legislative Bill does not receive a two thirds majority in both the House of Representatives and Senate, the President has the option to veto the Bill. According to the BBC article, the bill had proposed an increase in tobacco taxes to provide an extra $35 billion to insure approximately 10 million children.

This is only the fourth time in Mr. Bush’s presidency that he has used his power of veto. Twice in the past he blocked legislation relating to legislation which would have eased restrictions on federally funded stem-cell research. Once to halt a bill which linked war funding to a troop withdrawal timetable for the Iraq war.

The State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) is jointly financed by the Federal and State governments and is administered by the States. Within broad Federal guidelines, each State determines the design of its program, eligibility groups, benefit packages, payment levels for coverage, and administrative and operating procedures. SCHIP provides a capped amount of funds to States on a matching basis for Federal fiscal years (FY) 1998 through 2007. Federal payments under title XXI to States are based on State expenditures under approved plans effective on or after October 1, 1997.
Source - U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

According to the research done for the BBC article, SCHIP subsidises the health care for approximately 6.6 million people, predominantly children. Supporters of the bill were hoping for an increase in the tobacco tax in the U.S. from $0.39 to $1. The additional $0.61 would have provided health insurance coverage for an additional 4 million children.

In his speech following the announcement of the veto, he said -

“And the policies of the government out to be to help people find private insurance, not federal coverage.”
Source - BBC News Online

While the current incarnation of the bill is now dead, Mr. Bush said he would be willing to negotiate a revised bill with the Democrat majority.

Here in Canada, where we have a social healthcare system, we do not have this particular kind of legislative issue. As an outside observer it is hard to see the logic in the U.S. political system of providing such power to one individual when it is extremely obvious that the majority of the population and both legislative houses want the bill to pass.

While Mr. Bush was apparently willing to increase spending on this program by $5 billion, it is hard to fathom why an additional $0.61 per package of cigarettes would be a complete deal breaker.

Like most Canadians, while I don’t like paying taxes, I do understand that those taxes allow me to see a doctor whenever I feel like. I am probably a healthier person in general because I don’t have to worry about having to pay a huge bill for tests and hospital stays. I would probably be very hesitant to see a doctor if I were living in the United States just because of the financial burden that the health care system there incurs, even more so if I didn’t have private health insurance.

Where do you stand on public vs. private healthcare?

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Ross McDowall of Visual Lizard

  • 48 years old
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  • User since Mar 15th 2007, 15:38

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