Thursday, October 4, 2007

They left the children behind

President Bush yesterday vetoed important legislation that reauthorizes the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (renamed CHIP in the legislation). CHIP is a public health care program created in 1997 to provide health coverage to children in families with incomes too high to receive Medicaid but too low to afford private insurance. Jointly funded by the state and federal governments, the program has made significant progress over the past decade in closing the gap between insured and uninsured children in the U.S.—providing coverage to approximately six million children and some adults.

Health care organizations, like Planned Parenthood, saw SCHIP reauthorization as an important opportunity to push to expand access to family planning services under Medicaid, offer care to pregnant women (older than 19) under CHIP, and to include a fix for Medicaid’s onerous citizenship documentation requirement. While the bill was ultimately not the expansion many health care advocates had lobbied for, it does offer a $35 billion increase in CHIP funds—which will offer critical health care coverage to an estimated 3.8 million new children.

Rather, it would’ve if the President had signed it… the legislation has been sent back to Congress, which will attempt to override the presidential veto. Here's hoping.

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