Senate Democrats

FACT CHECK: President Bush Misleading on Children’s Health Insurance

This morning, the President continued spinning fictions about the Children’s Health Insurance bill. But the facts are clear. Despite the President’s refusal to meet with Congressional leaders, Democrats in Congress crafted a bill to respond to Republican concerns, in an effort to win their support, and the President’s signature. But the President’s continued veto threats show that he can’t take yes for an answer. It’s time for the President to put politics aside and make sure that 10 million children get the care they need.

FICTION: President Bush Said Congress Never Met With His Representatives. “After I vetoed the last SCHIP bill I designated members of my Administration to work with Congress to find common ground. Congressional leaders never met with them.” [President Bush, 10/26/07]

  • FACT: President Bush Refused to Meet With Congressional Leaders Himself to Find Compromise on Children’s Health Insurance Bill. During his weekly pen and pad, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said,“So I would hope the President, if in fact a veto is not overwritten in the House, and we should know that within the next…a little bit, I would hope that the President will sit down and engage us.  Now the Speaker and I asked him yesterday to meet with us.  You know, he’s gone around saying ‘why don’t they lee-way, why don’t they talk, why don’t they negotiate, why don’t they compromise with us.’  He said ‘no, I’m not moving, meet with my staff.’” [Senator Reid Pen and Pad, 10/18/07] 

FICTION: President Bush Said House Passed a Bill It Knew Would Not Become Law. “Instead the House once again passed a bill that they knew would not become law.” [President Bush, 10/26/07]

  • FACT: Congress Took Up a New Children’s Health Insurance Bill That Answered Republican Concerns About the Legislation.  “The new version will underscore that illegal immigrants will not have access to the expanded program. It will ease adults off the program in one year, rather than the two in the vetoed version. And it establishes a firmer eligibility cap at 300 percent of the federal poverty line, just more than $60,000 for a family of four…The new bill seeks to allay concerns laid out by 38 Republicans seeking to vote for the next version…To answer criticism that the bill would encourage families with private health insurance onto government-funded health care, the new version adds performance bonuses for states that provide funding to employed parents to cover the additional cost of enrolling their children in their existing private policies.” [Washington Post, 10/25/07]

FICTION: President Bush Said New Children’s Health Bill Is More Expensive Than the Bill He Already Vetoed. “This week the majority in the House passed a new SCHIP bill that cost more over the next five years than the one that I vetoed three weeks ago.” [President Bush, 10/26/07]

  • FACT: New Children’s Health Insurance Bill Is Marginally More Expensive Because It Covers 100,000 More of the Lowest-Income Children. The Children’s Health Insurance bill vetoed by the President increased funding for the program by $34.7 billion over five years. The new Children’s Health Insurance bill will increase funding for the program by $35.4 billion. The new bill responds to Republican criticisms that the old bill did not focus enough on poor children. The new bill provides coverage for an additional 100,000 of the lowest-income children as compared to the version vetoed by the President, reflecting the difference of costs between the two bills. [CQ House Action Report, 10/24/07; House Energy and Commerce Committee, “Summary of Changes-HR 3963”; CBO Score of SCHIP Reauthorization Act, 10/24/07]