Vote on President's S-CHIP Veto scheduled this week

Published 11:53 am Monday, October 15, 2007

By By Jo Bonner
This week, the House is scheduled to vote on whether to sustain the president's veto of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), which is up for reauthorization this year.
As I have said repeatedly, I wholeheartedly support efforts to extend and expand coverage to low-income families not currently being served, and I look forward to supporting a reasonable compromise that will preserve the S-CHIP program for those low-income, working families. Don't forget, S-CHIP began when Republicans were in control of Congress.
The truth is Congress had a chance to reauthorize and expand S-CHIP to low-income, working families – and this would have passed with broad, bipartisan support. Instead, the new Democratic majority chose to go well beyond the original scope of the program.
In the end, I could not support the final product brought to the House floor which enabled a state, in some cases, to qualify a family making more than $83,000 to receive S-CHIP benefits and that also weakened the citizenship verification requirements for illegal immigrants.
Earlier this month, I heard a caller make a very valid point on C-SPAN. The caller identified herself as a stay-at-home mother of two, whose husband earns less than $25,000 per year. She was frustrated with the plan to expand S-CHIP to families making $80,000 per year, while her state S-CHIP program is failing to fully reimburse her for her children's medical bills.
Simply put, she said she did not understand how the government can talk about giving people that make $80,000 insurance for their children while there are "so many of us out there that don't make $40,000!" I could not agree more. Children from low-income families should be insured first; after all, that was the original intent of the program.
Additionally, the original S-CHIP legislation required states to document the identity and citizenship status of all applicants. But, section 211 of the Democratic majority's bill changes this requirement to allow Social Security numbers to be used as proof of citizenship.
As the Congressional Research Service noted, "a Social Security card (or having a valid Social Security number) does not denote citizenship and is not useful for determining citizenship status."
Furthermore, this bill does not even require an applicant to show identification to prove the Social Security number they provide is, in fact, their own.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that by watering down this provision and making it easier for illegal immigrants to receive taxpayer-funded health benefits, it will cost an extra $3.7 billion in federal spending and $2.8 billion in added state spending.
Needless to say, I am extremely disappointed that Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic leadership have now chosen to play political games with S-CHIP by delaying the vote to address the president's veto. This vote could have taken place two weeks ago – immediately following the veto – and we could have spent this past few days negotiating a reasonable compromise. Instead, it was delayed until this week for purely partisan reasons.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Every three minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, and another 180,510 new cases of breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in the U.S. this year alone. In order to increase awareness and promote the importance of monthly breast self-examinations and annual mammograms, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
I am cosponsor of a resolution sponsored by Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL) expressing the support of Congress for the observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as it provides a special opportunity to offer education on its prevention.
Astoundingly, one out of every eight women who lives to the age of 85 will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, but when it is detected in the early stages, the survival rate is 98 percent. My own mother battled breast cancer for many years prior to her death in 1992; this is a terrible disease that deserves a cure.
Therefore, early detection is critical, and mammograms and monthly self-examinations are key to detecting breast cancer early.
The resolution also salutes the more than 2.4 million breast cancer survivors in the United States as well as the efforts of victims, volunteers, and professionals who combat breast cancer.
Finally, the bill applauds national and community organizations for their work in promoting awareness about breast cancer.
My staff and I work for you. If we can ever be of service, do not hesitate to call my office toll free at 1-800-288-8721 or visit my website
Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.

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