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APHA Urges President Bush to Reconsider Unfounded Basis for SCHIP Veto

Statement from Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E) Executive Director

American Public Health Association

WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement by Statement by Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), Executive Director, American Public Health Association:

"President Bush stated this week that he intends to veto pending legislation that would reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which is set to expire Sept. 30. The bill would extend health coverage to approximately 4 million uninsured children and continue providing coverage to 6 million children.

"The American Public Health Association (APHA) strongly urges the president to reconsider and sign the SCHIP bill that is likely to be passed by the House and Senate next week. APHA believes that the reasons the president gives for his intended veto are unfounded.

"We urge the president to consider these facts in light of his recent assertions to support a veto:

-- The president asserts that since he has made his veto intention clear,

Congress should pass a bill extending the program at its current

funding levels until a resolution can be reached.

FACT: If baseline-funding levels are maintained through a temporary extension of the program, 800,000 children will lose coverage.

-- The president asserts that the House and Senate bills aim to shift

focus away from low-income children by increasing eligibility for

higher income children.

FACT: Of the children who would receive benefits under both bills, 70 percent or more are members of households with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

-- The president asserts that funding the increases in the SCHIP budget

through an increase in the tobacco tax will hurt working Americans.

FACT: Research has shown that increases in the tobacco tax reduce the number of people who smoke. Funding SCHIP through a tobacco tax increase will not only reduce existing tobacco-related health care costs, but will also deter kids from becoming smokers.

-- The president asserts that we cannot afford to increase the SCHIP


FACT: We cannot afford not to do this. The cost to the nation for the uninsured is already more than $65 billion annually. One-third of this cost is incurred by government, and the other-two thirds is borne by business and those of us who are insured.

"Failing to cover uninsured kids is bad economics, bad policy and bad medicine. Providing all of our children the right start in life is essential to building healthy, secure communities, and SCHIP has demonstrated that it does this. The president has an opportunity to prove that he is committed to the health and security of our nation's children. We strongly urge him and his advisors to review the facts and reconsider his intended veto."

Visit for more information about the American Public Health Association.

Contact: Bithiah Lafontant: (202) 777-2509

SOURCE American Public Health Association
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