The Health Insurance Debate

Congress’ primary focus—and one of its biggest battles—on health care reform this year has been the reauthorization of SCHIP, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which was passed on September 26 in the House (265-159) and Senate (67-29).

While a bill with a good aim—covering the insurance gap for millions of children whose families earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid, yet are unable to afford private coverage—the authorization bill has become a vehicle for a partisan debate.

The five-year, $35 billion expansion backed by Democrats is prompting Republicans to accuse the party of using the authorization bill to make incremental headway to government-managed health care.

As promised, President Bush vetoed the bill on October 3. At presstime, Democrats were trying to gain enough Republican votes to override the president’s veto.

While not directly related to PIA’s policy position to preserve/enhance employee benefits choices for printers offering health benefits, the SCHIP debate symbolizes the discourse playing out in Congress and in the presidential campaign.

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