December 29th, 2007
12:45 PM ET
15 years ago

Bush signs into law an extension of children's health program

 President and Laura Bush.

President and Laura Bush.

CRAWFORD, Texas (CNN) - After vetoing two attempts to expand a federally-funded, state-run health insurance program for poor children, President Bush on Saturday signed legislation that extends the State Children's Health Insurance Program at its current funding levels.

The extension will provide federal funding for those enrolled through the end of March 2009, according to a statement from the White House.

Bush vetoed two attempts to expand the program: one earlier this month, and another in October. In his veto message on Dec. 12, the president said the proposed bill a "moves our country's health care system in the wrong direction."

He said the bill was "essentially identical" to the one he spiked two months earlier. This bill "has the same problems as the flawed bill I previously vetoed," he said in a statement the White House released. "I must veto this legislation, too."

Both versions of the bill would have expanded the State Children's Health Insurance Program by nearly $35 billion over five years. After his October veto, Bush had proposed adding $5 billion to the program, and said the version he vetoed would have encouraged families to leave the private insurance market for the federally-funded, state-run program.

SCHIP currently covers about 6 million children whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid - the federal health insurance program for the poor - but who can't afford private insurance. Democrats wanted to extend the program to another 4 million, paying for it with a 61-cent-per-pack increase in the federal tax on cigarettes.

Democratic leaders said the December version of the bill addressed Republican objections by tightening restrictions on illegal immigrants receiving SCHIP benefits; capping the income levels of families that qualify for the program; and preventing adults from receiving benefits. Though the measure had strong bipartisan support, it fell short of the two-thirds majorities needed to override a presidential veto in the House and Senate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted the president for vetoing the proposed bills. "What a sad day that the president would say that rather than insuring 5 million children, I don't want to raise the cigarette tax," Pelosi, D-California, said after the December veto. But House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Democrats were more interested in scoring political points with the veto than in reaching a compromise with Republicans.

"We could have resolved the differences in his program in 10 minutes, if the majority had wanted to resolve the differences," Boehner said in December. "This has become a partisan political game."

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soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. RedSea Foreign National

    To Max, Wesley, Diane, and Ken: From a conservative, Christian Republican with advanced degree in Economics! Can't believe there is one person who has anything good to say about Bush. Do you realize Bush will eventually end up in the Hague like Milosovich, and eventually it will be proven that he attacked his own country. to create the terrorist threat and justify his actions all along, as it was his first agenda from day 1 in 2000. Ever read the book called 'The Price of Loyalty' by Paul O'Niel former Secretary of the Treasury? You guys fell into the pit he dug for Americans.

    December 30, 2007 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  2. W.D.Russell, East Liverpool, Ohio

    Hey George, it is not the health care plan moving in the wrong direction, it is you moving in the wrong direction.

    December 30, 2007 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  3. JC Topeka, KS

    Bush wouldn't know what was good for the nation if it bite him in the butt. Classic showboating, he has done nothing for the nation but impede progress.

    December 30, 2007 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  4. Brad, Stockton, CA

    This was by far a more responsible act than signing the bill that would have increased the cost by $35 billion over five years; we cannot afford to be spending that kind of money, especially at a time when we're wasting away our treasury in Iraq. I would just like to see an American government that places the needs of Americans first.

    December 30, 2007 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  5. Brian Nordin

    Everyone is so afraid of National Health Care and the associated taxes to pay for it. Who do you think pays for the corrupt system we have now? The "national health bill" will be paid; whether with taxes or by the high premiums, charges, and fees the current system depends on. For you "free-market" patriotic folks out there: what other business has such a disconnect between the provider and payer? Does anyone EVER ask "how much will this cost?" – nope. We just line up like lemmings and jump off the cliff of ever higher premiums, poorer service, more limited service options, more denied claims and ever higher deductables.

    Only the insurance and drug companies, hospital corporations, trial lawyers, HMO's and the American Medical Association seem to benefit from the current system. It can't get much worse to let the government have a crack at it!

    Count me in for National Health Care!


    December 30, 2007 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  6. Chris S - Gerald, MO

    Dan (Columbia, MD) – Please quantify your question to me:

    "Chris S, if you're working 65-80 hours a week and "really can't afford" health insurance? I only work 40 hours a week and can pay for mine just fine. Did you not pay attention in school or something?"

    Yes I did pay attention in school, yet do not understand where your first question is.

    Dan, the point I was intending to drive home is, at our current rate we will all soon be paying COBRA rates for coverage as the insurance companies in question are trying to cut their losses due to the ever increasing costs of healthcare. It is not a matter of not being "able to afford" insurance, but not seeing the value in paying co-payments and deductibles with an "up-to" cost. If you are not a sickly person, there is no real value in maintaining the exorbitant costs – hence value.

    Oh and Dan, you stated, "I only work 40 hours a week and can pay for mine just fine." I am glad you are still able to maintain coverage for yourself (your operative word being "mine") but, try covering a family with individual deductibles of $2500, and then 40% of cost above that. A tragic accident or illness can now more quickly bankrupt the average family, unless of course they work where you do.

    December 30, 2007 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  7. Chris S - Gerald, MO

    Thank you Brian Nordin for quantifying my position. There has to be a better way than the way it is now. With more and more people, from all social walks, jumping ship from carrying private insurance, Medicaid and Medicare are quickly becomming our "National Healthcare Coverage" as it is. At what point will they crumble? We need to start capping procedure costs and hospital costs and get insurance companies out of the decision making process when it comes to individual medical necessity. If properly budgeted and costs capped, the cost would not be that much of a burden to maintain.

    Recently my employer instructed us to hire only part-time help in our stores in an effort to cut costs of the employer shared expense of providing health insurance to employees. What does that say when employers no longer want to carry this so called benefit?

    December 30, 2007 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  8. From Canada

    I find some of these posts to be utterly ridiculous. ie: "If the founding fathers intended there to be global medical coverage at the cost to the rich they would have created it." I guess if America was still in the dark ages and the population was still as small as it was then, American's would still have Doctors making house calls by horse and buggy for free, thus wouldn't need Big Insurance Corporations! What a shame America had to grow by leaps and bounds!

    I dont' get all the anxiety over Government Sponsored Health Care? Our Canadian Medicare Program has been providing Canadians with Health Care for decades and ensures that every citizen is entitled to Medical Care when they need it regardless of their bank account or class. It may not be the top echelon of Health Care but when a Canadian needs a Doctor, treatment, or hospitalization they don't have to take out a loan to pay for it. or do without care because they don't have the finances to pay for it. And we still have the option of buying into Corporate Health Care Plans for extra coverage if a family or individual feels they need it.

    I doubt any Canadian could afford to pay the Costs of American Health Care.

    January 1, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
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