Christopher Lee noted over the weekend, “If anything looked like a sure thing in the new Congress, it was that lawmakers would renew, and probably expand, the popular, decade-old State Children’s Health Insurance Program before it expires this year.” It’s a no-brainer, right? Who’s going to balk at an established, successful program that offers health insurance for kids? As it turns out, the president is.
Is it because he doesn’t think the program works? No, Bush acknowledges that S-CHIP works well. Is it because it’s fiscally irresponsible? No, it’s fairly inexpensive.
Bush’s opposition is entirely, by his own admission, ideological. Here’s what he told a friendly audience in Cleveland last week:
“[S-CHIP is] now aiming at encouraging more people to get on government health care. That’s what that is. It’s a way to encourage people to transfer from the private sector to government health care plans…. I strongly object to the government providing incentives for people to leave private medicine, private health care to the public sector. […]
“I mean, think of it this way: They’re going to increase the number of folks eligible through S-CHIP; some want to lower the age for Medicare. And then all of a sudden, you begin to see a — I wouldn’t call it a plot, just a strategy — (laughter) — to get more people to be a part of a federalization of health care.”
It doesn’t matter if it works, or if it’s affordable, or whether it’ll help children receive quality care — what matters is Bush’s ideology tells him it’s offensive. If that means less insurance for kids, so be it.
Lawmakers are moving towards passing a bi-partisan measure to extend coverage for about 4 million U.S. children, and late last week, the White House made it crystal clear: Bush will veto the bill because it conflicts with the president’s philosophy.