Bush Vows to Abandon Millions of Sick Children

This post, written by Scarecrow, originally appeared on FireDogLake

George Bush's misplaced priorties were on full display this past week when he again threatened to veto health care coverage for millions of children unless Congress gave in to his demands to protect the insurance industry from competition from SCHIP's public funding.

But while he and his wannabe Republican replacements railed against government health programs, his Administration was simultaneously using government control to overrule doctors' medical advice to preclude medically necessary cancer treatments.

Bush claims he'll veto the compromise SCHIP bill, worked out by House and Senate conferees from both parties because (1) it costs too much ($35 billion more versus the $5 billion Bush has offered) and (2) might encourage some with private insurance to use the publically funded SCHIP program. In his weekly radio address, Bush accused the Democrats of being "irresponsible" and "playing politics" and then claimed:
"Our goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage -- not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage."
The cost argument is a little hard to swallow when Bush repeatedly asks (and gets) far more than this bill provides to wage unnecessary wars. And the argument that private programs should not face competition from a succesful low-cost public alternative is little more than an argument in favor of subsidies and preferential treatment -- not exactly consistent with principles of private market competition the Republicans claim to support.

I'm sure the insurance industry is relieved to hear Mr. Bush is so concerned about their profits that he'd jeopardize health care for millions of children, but I think everyone else in the country thinks the priority ought to be providing health care to all children who don't have it today, and to do so in the most effective way possible.

The compromise bill would extend SCHIP coverage to another 4,000,000 children, repeal the punitive restrictions issued last month that prevented states from expanding its scope; it also phases out some coverage for adults and focuses more attention on those least likely to afford alternative insurance programs. But the possibility that some families might switch from private insurance and all its hassles to a successful public program has the Bush Republicans petrified.

We're facing another bruising battle. The key votes on the SCHIP renewal and expansion will occur this week, with Congress planning to send the bill to the President just before the SCHIP program ends on September 30. There will be a fight to get a veto-proof majority in both houses and then preserve it after the President's expected veto. Senator Dodd and others are urging Republican governors to support the bill, but they'll need our help too in calling Congress. We'll have more info about calling Congress later this week.

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