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Congressional failure to override SCHIP veto 'saddens' physicians

(Washington) Internal medicine physicians and medical students today said they were deeply saddened that Congress did not override the presidential veto of the bipartisan legislation to re-authorize the State Childrens Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). They now are urging Congress to pass another bill that provides comparable levels of funding and coverage.

The current SCHIP formula clearly does not go far enough, said David C. Dale, MD, FACP, president of the 124,000-member American College of Physicians (ACP). Until SCHIP is re-authorized, millions of children will be at risk of being denied basic health care needs that give a child a healthy and successful start in life.

ACP contended that the carefully-crafted House-Senate compromise President Bush vetoed on Oct. 3, was targeted at continuing to protect the nations poorest children whose parents are unable to afford health insurance on their own. In an Oct. 5 letter to the White House, ACP asked President Bush to reconsider his opposition to the legislation.

In the unfortunate event that the veto is sustained, we will continue to urge Congress to again pass a bill that provides comparable levels of coverage, Dr. Dale wrote President Bush in the same letter. We hope that you will sign such a bill into law when it returns to your desk.

The bill represents good health care policy, Dr. Dale emphasized. ACP strongly supported the bills provisions to increase federal taxes on tobacco products as a principal means of funding the program. ACP believes that raising tobacco taxes to provide coverage for the 6.6 million children currently enrolled in SCHIP and cover an additional 4 million children not only makes for good budget policy but good health care policy. The belief is based on findings that higher taxes on tobacco have proven to reduce the number of children and adolescents who start smoking and they reduce long-term costs associated with smoking-related illnesses.

President Bush said he vetoed the bill because the legislation was an expansion of government-run insurance. Dr. Dale pointed out, though, that, SCHIP is a public-private partnership where nearly 70 percent of children already receive coverage through private insurers and this legislation will expand private insurance even further.


Contact: David Kinsman
American College of Physicians

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