CARDIN, MIKULSKI URGE HOUSE OVERRIDE OF PRESIDENT'S VETO OF CHILDREN'S HEALTH INSURANCE BILL
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-MD) today called on Congress to override the President's veto of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) bill. The Senate voted by a 67-to-29 margin to approve the measure, a veto-proof majority. The House approved the measure last week by a vote of 265 to 159, but will need two-thirds of voting members to override a presidential veto.
Today, more than 100,000 children from Maryland from working families receive affordable, comprehensive health care through CHIP. In Western Maryland, more than 13,400 children depend on the program for their health care. This bipartisan measure would provide health care for an additional 42,000 uninsured Maryland children.
The CHIP bill that President Bush vetoed would provide health care to an additional 3.8 million low-income children nationally, and would provide a guaranteed dental benefit to children enrolled in the program. The bill would be fully financed by increasing the federal excise tax to 61-Cents on a pack of cigarettes.
"In vetoing the CHIP bill, President Bush has made clear that the health of America's children is not a priority," said Senator Cardin. "The President claims he is vetoing the bill because it is too expensive. But one month of what we spend in Iraq would provide health care to 7.4 million children. The Senate has the votes to override his veto, but the House may not. I urge Americans to contact their members of Congress and urge them to vote to override the President's veto."
"With his veto, President Bush has turned his back on America's children in need. This program is critical to ensure our children have access to the health care they need and deserve," said Senator Mikulski, one of the original SCHIP authors in 1997. "I have been fighting since SCHIP's creation to expand coverage and increase payment to states. I will continue to work with my colleagues to overturn the President's misguided veto."
Senator Cardin also referred to Tobi Drabczyk, who lives in Walkersville, MD. Tobi and her husband Kevin have four children. Kevin has a full-time job, but he would have to pay premiums of $700 a month to cover his wife and four children, an unaffordable amount for a family with an annual income of $36,000. In 2003, Tobi enrolled the children in MCHP.
Tobi explains it best when she says: "SCHIP has been very important to our family. We don't go to the doctors for colds, flu, or other non serious conditions. This isn't free for us and we aren't asking for a hand out. We would gladly pay for private insurance if it was even close to being affordable. Kevin works hard, but no matter how hard he works we can not afford the continually rising cost of health insurance. There are many families just like us. We just need a little bit of help."
Carol Antoniewicz, Coordinator, Medicaid Matters! Maryland, said: "There are thousands of reasons to vote for SCHIP -- and all of them are children. In August, some of us met with Congressman Bartlett, and he agreed that children need healthcare. We shared stories about children with no health coverage - untreated asthma, even one with a broken arm who didn't get care for three weeks because the family could not find an orthopedic doctor willing to take him without insurance. We are a non-partisan group, we are especially proud of Republicans like Congressman Wayne Gilchrest who did vote for SCHIP. We'd like to see Mr. Bartlett do the right thing and vote to override the President's veto."
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