Press Releases

Contact: First Focus
Phone: 202-657-0670

Bush Veto Threat Misguided


Alexandria, VA – With reports indicating that the White House is considering a veto of legislation to reauthorize the highly successful State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), First Focus President Bruce Lesley released the following statement in response to the Administration’s characterization of the program as a “massive expansion of government-run health care:”

“It is confusing to hear the Administration characterize the Children’s Health Insurance Program as a ‘massive expansion’ of government health insurance, when the current proposal would only insure one-quarter of the 8-9 million uninsured children in American today. With the program currently experiencing a shortfall of $14 billion over five years, his proposal did not even approach the amount necessary to reach any of the millions of American children who are uninsured. In fact, the President’s budget proposal would result in over 1 million children currently enrolled to lose coverage.

Furthermore, The President’s 2007 budget backtracks from his 2004 campaign pledge to cover every single eligible child. Rather than picking on kids, we urge the President to uphold his campaign promise to children.

In addition, the private plans that President Bush touts as part of a tax credit proposal are the same plans that cover children under the Children’s Health Program, and are the same as the drug plans that senior citizens have through Medicare and the president and his advisors have through the Federal Employees Health Benefits plan.

With his characterization of SCHIP as ‘government run,’ the President is making a distinction without difference. SCHIP is a public-private partnership that has enjoyed amazing success over the past decade, reducing the number of uninsured by one third. How is this program a step toward socialized medicine when a trillion dollar expansion of government-run Medicare not considered one?

Unfortunately, the President’s tax proposal alternative provides a tax credit of $7500 for individuals and $15,000 for families. As a result children are completely left out of the President’s plan, as the average cost of family coverage is 2.7 times that of individuals, not two times the cost. Unfortunately, the alternative even shortchanges children.

Now is not the time to shortchange our nation’s children, as the President has done through both SCHIP and his tax credit. Instead, the President should follow the lead of others in the Republican Party such as Senators Olympia Snowe, Gordon Smith, Arlen Specter, Richard Lugar, and Susan Collins and Representatives Jim Ramstad, Ray LaHood, Todd Russell Pitts, Jo Ann Emerson, Heather Wilson, Rodney Alexander, and Ted Poe to work with Democrats to improve the health and well-being of children.”