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 http://www.apha.org/about/news/boilerplate.htm for more
 information about the American Public Health Association.
     Contact: Bithiah Lafontant: (202) 777-2509

SOURCE American Public Health Association

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