After falling 13 House votes short last week to override President Bush's veto of expanding the State Child Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP), bipartisan champions of the bill are offering a new version to the floor.
The bill will still cost $35 billion and cover 10 million Americans (mostly kids) in households making more money than the rock-bottom limit to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private insurance.
However, the new version addresses Bush's main reasons for why he vetoed the bill:
- Federal money won't cover illegal immigrants;
- No childless adults will have access to the program;
-Children of families with incomes exceeding three times the poverty level will be ineligible: $61,950 will be the ceiling household income for a family of four.
The New York Times reports, "Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, said the income limits in the new bill 'completely obliterate' Mr. Bush's argument that Congress wanted to provide coverage to families making $83,000 a year, which is about four times the poverty level for a family of four."
This has been an ugly month in America for loving our neighbors. First came the initial veto of the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act on the grounds that it might cover some struggling lower-middle class Americans, and not just the desperately poor.
For a mean-spirited encore, Bush quietly announced last Friday evening he intends to cut back funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a move which will literally cut the heat to 30 million officially desperately poor Americans this winter.
Then the Dream Act, a bill which would help the children of illegal immigrants achieve citizenship by graduating high school or joining the American military, failed a Senate test vote.
It's an ugly season in Washington when the keepers of power are actively working to deny heat and medical care to those in need, and to refuse citizenship to achievers brought unwittingly to the U.S. as small children and, in many cases, willing to fight and die for America.
We are in dark and dangerous territory as a country, and the new chance to pass the child health insurance bill could provide a badly needed glimmer of light.