President Bush's veto of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (Schip) is a move in the wrong direction. The Schip program passed the House and Senate with almost unprecedented bipartisan support. It raises the income thresholds for eligibility so that 10 million children, rather than the current 6.6 million, would qualify.As passed by Congress, the health care program will cost $60 billion over five years (or $12 billion a year), up from the current program's cost of $25 billion over five years. The additional costs of the program were to be covered by raising tobacco taxes. As created, the Schip program was aimed at insuring children in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but who cannot afford private health insurance.
The expanded Schips program would have cost less than a dollar per person to fund using increased tobacco taxes. Evidently the president is more interested in seeing tobacco companies flourish than American children insured. The bill, as passed by Congress, received high praise from Congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle and received the praise of Republican and Democratic governors around the country.
The fact of the matter is that it is cheaper to insure children than it is to pay for the consequences of not insuring them as they grow older. It's more efficient to insure children through state and federally run programs.
How can the president insist that this program is not worthy of expansion if his tax cuts are worthy of renewal?