On October 2, 2007, President Bush put ideology over the children of this country by vetoing an extension to the children's health care program known as SCHIP. SCHIP funds basic health care for over 6 million of America's children in all 50 states -- mostly children from poor families with little or no access to other health services.
Here's what our President -- tone-deaf on health care, as on so many other issues -- had to say about health care back in July:
"I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room."
Unbelievable. What would George W. Bush - son of a President, grandson of a Senator - know about trying to get basic health care through an emergency room?
What would he know about the overtaxed, under-funded hospital that serves low-income neighborhoods in America's cities? Has he ever waited all day to see the traveling doctor who visits a rural community one afternoon a week? Sat in a crowded hospital triage room for four hours? Waited six weeks for an appointment at a public clinic?
Can he even imagine the desperation a parent of a sick child feels when they are turned away from medical services because they can't afford to pay?
Of course not. Instead he suggests we spend another $50 billion on the war in Iraq. How many children could be covered with even a fraction of the money we've spent on this disastrous war?
As a Governor, I'm used to getting things done. Not just talking about solutions, not just railing against injustices, but instead taking action, building consensus, and solving problems. In New Mexico, we're poised to expand the SCHIP-funded New Mexikids program (which brings immunizations, regular checkups, and other health services to 19,000 children) to cover 11,000 more kids.
Now, I'm not going to just sit by and let President Bush endanger that progress and the health of our children. We're going to do something about it.
I'm joining the Governors of states from California, New York, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Washington, Arizona, and New Hampshire -- and we're taking President Bush to court.
Basic health services, like immunizations and regular checkups, are one of the most cost-effective ways of giving children a leg up in life. But our short-sighted President would rather turn his back on America's children, and waste more time and treasure on his failed war. We can't stand by and let this continue any longer.
Our nation's children do not deserve to be subject to an ideological inflexibility. We must not let this happen.
Help us take President Bush to court - contact your Governor now and ask them to join the lawsuit, or sign our petition in support: http://action.richardsonforpresident.com/page/s/schip
Follow Bill Richardson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/GovRichardson