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'Great disappointment' in veto of SCHIP legislation expressed by American College of Physicians

(Washington) Internal medicine physicians and medical students today expressed their great disappointment in President Bushs veto of the bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the State Childrens Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The sentiment was expressed in a letter sent to the White House today by David C. Dale, MD, FACP, president of the American College of Physicians (ACP).

On behalf of the 124,000 internal medicine physicians and medical student members of ACP, Dr. Dale said, We respectfully request that you reconsider your opposition to this bipartisan bill to provide coverage to families from lower income families.

This carefully-crafted House-Senate compromise is targeted at continuing to protect the nations poorest of children whose parents are unable to afford health insurance on their own, Dr. Dale explained. If SCHIP is not reauthorized, millions of children will be denied basic health care needs to give a child a healthy and successful start in life.

We disagree with your view of this legislation as an expansion of government-run insurance, Dr. Dale noted. Rather, 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.

The letter went on to say that ACP strongly supports the provisions to increase federal taxes on tobacco products as a principal means of funding the program. The physicians group 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.

Dr. Dale ended the ACP letter to President Bush by emphasizing that, We are asking Congress to override your veto. 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 and necessary increases in tobacco taxes. We hope that you will sign such a bill into law when it returns to your desk.


Contact: David Kinsman
American College of Physicians

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