November Web Platform
In October, President Bush vetoed a bill passed by Congress that would add $35 billion to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and the House failed to override the veto. The Bush administration contends that the expansion went too far and would offer coverage to children in households with annual incomes of more than $80,000. State officials say Bush’s own plan would leave too many children without health insurance.
American City & County asked the readers of its weekly e-newsletter if they think the SCHIP bill went too far. Below are some of the responses.
“The entitlement programs in our country benefit no one. We need to somehow offer reasonably priced insurance not no-cost insurance to all without punishing those with expensive conditions they cannot control. By definition, insurance is supposed to be something we all pay into so that when we need it, the money is there; in this country we have allowed it to become a pay-as-you-go system for anyone not in a large group policy. Basing rates on age, sex, and claims cannot continue. Fix the big picture, and we won’t have the large number of uninsured middleclass children.”
- Barb Brady, city council member, Vermilion, Ohio
“Of course Mr. Bush vetoed this [legislation.] The House and Senate gave him almost veto-proof indications of their lack of leadership. Negotiations should focus on a real compromise that [enrolls most of the] uninsured population into some form of health plan and preventive disease management [program] that is income sensitive, [which is what] most states presently have in place for the working poor. For this country to have so many [people] not able to access quality, preventive medical care and treatment is testimony to the Bush, Cheney, Tony Snow privileged mentality. [They are] people who have never had to worry a day in their lives about food, shelter, medicine [or] transportation and who have now sacrificed approximately 3,400 American lives to fight a religious civil war in Iraq and drain[ed] our military resources worldwide for a ‘fight’ that they declared victory over three years ago. That’s where the [money] for uninsured health care is being wasted at the [federal] level. ‘Hilary-care’ aside, November 2008 can’t come soon enough for this country to stand up and take a new direction and put the Bush legacy where it belongs, on an arid plain in Crawford, Texas.”
- Jay Gsell, Genesee County, N.Y., county manager
“My response would be based on who is giving the whole story. Does the SCHIP expansion bill extend coverage to children who families make $80,000 annually? If so, I would agree with the administration that not too many families in that income bracket are without family health insurance. We want our tax dollars to go to those with a true need, not to expand entitlements for families with the means to provide coverage. If the expansion bill truly does what Congress intends — to insure uninsured children from lower income families — than I would agree that the veto should be overridden.”
- Carl Baxmeyer, planner and senior associate, Fanning Howey, Michigan City, Ind.
“I have never agreed with the federal SCHIP program to start with for two reasons. Other federal and state programs address the medical need for financially strapped families with children. Second, the expansion of the program is a ‘Step 2’ [toward] universal health care by government. The [federal] bureaucracy is too far from the problem, and its ability to effectively and efficiently manage and control anything is poor at best.”
- John Hudgins, director, York County, Va., Department of Environmental and Development Services
“I think we must wean people off of government aid. Use the money to land good jobs so that people can afford health insurance. Instead, we keep propping [low-income people] up and sooner or later the crutches will give way. The socialist idea is to take from the rich and give to the poor, [and] while [that] sounds good it does not give the poor any reason to get out of poverty. And, by the way, I was raised in a poor family that only had income from my father’s Social Security check, but all of my  brothers and sisters are fairly successful because we were taught the value of good old fashioned hard work!”
— Clifton Beecher, public works director, Franklin, Ky.