President Bush – currently one of the most hated men in the world – has decided that not enough people dislike him yet. He has now vowed to veto the new State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) bill passed by a bipartisan majority of the U.S. Congress. His reasons? First, it would (supposedly) raise the maximum family income for eligibility to something over $80,000. That would mean that regular working folks would drop their current health insurance and the would hurt the insurance companies. The facts backing up that $80,000 claim have yet to be produced by the White House, and the number has been roundly denied by both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and the House. What the bill DOES do is increase the number of children living below the poverty level that would be covered by health insurance from six million to ten million. Oh, and adults are not covered at all, so it’s highly unlikely that even if the $80,000 income statistic were true that a family would completely drop all coverage. Second, SCHIP will (supposedly) increase the dependence of the poor on the federal government for health care. And, of course, that’s different from the dependence of the rich on the federal government for tax breaks and the dependence of corporations like Cheneyburton and Blackwater on the federal government for lucrative no-bid contracts in the Iraq war.
According to government figures, it costs approximately $1220 per year per child for SCHIP-suppported health care for kids. For ten million kids, that’s $12.2 billion. That’s a lot of money! Yes, it really is; we can occupy Iraq for an additional 42 days for that much money! And so far, as on a number of other substantive issues, the current crop of presidential candidates – especially Republicans – have been rather silent on this issue, too. We can only hope that the bipartisan support that SCHIP has received in Congress will be enough to override the threatened veto. And there’s a very real possibility that that might occur.