ALEXANDRIA, VA – Today, First Focus, in conjunction with PICO National Network, delivered letters from over 1,000 children across America to First Lady Laura Bush, highlighting the importance of healthcare to children, and calling on Mrs. Bush to persuade her husband not to veto the highly successful State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The letters to Mrs. Bush carried the message that they understand the connection between being healthy and leading productive lives.

Last night, the U.S. Senate joined the House of Representatives in passing an extension of the SCHIP program, which for the past decade has provided health coverage is available for children in working families whose parents earn too little to purchase health insurance. President Bush has pledged to veto the legislation. The program is set to expire on September 30.

Letters from children and families have poured in from across the nation, with many including a personal plea to Mrs. Bush

“As a long standing champion for children, particularly in the areas of education and early childhood development, children and advocates across the nation are hoping to use Mrs. Bush’s strong record and credibility to persuade her to weigh in on the future of the SCHIP program and to urge her husband to abstain from vetoing it,” said Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus. “We have turned to Mrs. Bush because we have been unable to persuade the President of the value of this program, despite the broad bipartisan support for this program, as indicated by recent polling showing that by a 2-1 margin Republicans support this legislation. Moreover, over 300 national, state, and local organizations throughout the country have pledged their support for this legislation and opposition to a veto including fellow conservative members of his own party such as Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassley. This is our very last effort to convince the President to reconsider vetoing this bill.”

“These poignant letters make the common sense case for covering uninsured children better than any policy paper or talking points,” said Fr. John Baumann, Executive Director of PICO National Network. “Let’s listen to the children and stop playing politics with their future.”

About First Focus

First Focus is a bipartisan advocacy organization that is committed to making children and their families a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. To learn more visit

About PICO

PICO is a national network of 53 faith-based federations and one-thousand congregations working to improve communities and strengthen families.