Senate Democrats

Bush Threatens to Veto New Children’s Health Care Bill

This morning the President issued yet another veto threat to the new Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization currently under debate in the House of Representatives. This new veto threat is the clearest indication the President has no interest in providing health care for the almost 4 million additional kids this bill would cover. Below are passages from the President’s Statement of Administration Policy and the corresponding facts.

RHETORIC:    “H.R. 3963 fails to prioritize poor children.” [Statement of Administration Policy, H.R. 3963]

REALITY:       The New CHIP Measure Provides Incentives to States to Enroll the Lowest Income Children. The new CHIP measure permits States to receive performance bonus payments only for finding and enrolling the lowest income uninsured children. [House Energy and Commerce Committee, Summary of Changes to Bipartisan Compromise on the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007]

REALITY:       In addition, the new CHIP measure permits states to only receive federal funding for children covered in CHIP with family incomes up to $51,510, which is approximately 300 percent of the federal poverty level for a family of three. [House Energy and Commerce Committee, Summary of Changes to Bipartisan Compromise on the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007]

RHETORIC:   “The bill would allow childless adults to stay on SCHIP through September 30, 2009. Through creative use of waivers, States could keep parents on SCHIP through September 30, 2012.” [Statement of Administration Policy, H.R. 3963]

REALITY:       The New CHIP Measure Explicitly Phases Out Coverage of Childless Adults After One Year. According to the bill, “No funds shall be available under this title for child health assistance or other health benefits coverage that is provided to a non-pregnant childless adult under an applicable existing waiver after December 31, 2008.” [HR 3963, 2007] 

RHETORIC:    “H.R. 3963 does not provide sufficient safeguards to assure that funds will not be spent on ineligible individuals.” [Statement of Administration Policy, H.R. 3963]

REALITY:       The New CHIP Measure Strengthens Safeguards to Ensure Enrollees Are U.S. Citizens. The new CHIP measure clarifies the role of the Social Security Administration in verifying citizenship for purposes of Medicaid and CHIP eligibility. The SSA will be required to verify the name, social security number, and place of birth of enrollees. In addition, the measure would also allow states the option to either use the requirements created in the Deficit Reduction Act for citizenship documentation under Medicaid. Unfortunately, some states have reported a drop in enrollment since implementing those rules because some Medicaid applicants have had difficulty satisfying the documentation requirement. Available evidence, based on state reports and other information provided by state officials, suggests that virtually all of those who have been unable to provide the required documentation are U.S. citizens. Accordingly, the Congressional Budget Office expects that most states would use the option to rely on the Social Security administration to verify eligibility. [House Energy and Commerce Committee, Summary of Changes to Bipartisan Compromise on the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007; Congressional Budget Office, 10/25/07]

RHETORIC:    “H.R. 3963 does all of this by raising taxes.” [Statement of Administration Policy, H.R. 3963]

REALITY:       The New CHIP Measure Is Fully Paid For With a Modest Increase in the Tax on Tobacco Products. Americans overwhelmingly support increasing taxes on tobacco to fund Children’s Health Care. According to a recent survey, two-thirds of Americans support a tobacco tax increase to fund children’s health care and most want to vote for a candidate who does as well. [American Medical Association Press Release, 6/19/07]

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