Nevada Democrats slam Bush healthcare veto | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Nevada Democrats slam Bush healthcare veto

Staff and wire reports

Nevada Democratic Party Chair Jill Derby condemned President Bush’s veto of legislation on Wednesday that would have renewed the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Bush, in a sharp confrontation with Congress, vetoed the bipartisan bill that would have dramatically expanded children’s health insurance.

The program is a joint state-federal effort that subsidizes health coverage for 6.6 million people, mostly children, from families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford their own private coverage.

The Democrats who control Congress, with significant support from Republicans, passed the legislation to add $35 billion over five years to allow an additional 4 million children into the program. It would be funded by raising the federal cigarette tax by 61 cents to $1 per pack.

It was only the fourth veto of Bush’s presidency, and one that some Republicans feared could carry steep risks for their party in next year’s elections. The Senate approved the bill with enough votes to override the veto, but the margin in the House fell short of the required number.

Democrats unleashed a stream of harsh rhetoric, as they geared up for a battle to both improve their chances of winning a veto override and score political points against Republicans who oppose the expansion.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., decried Bush’s action as a “heartless veto.”

“Never has it been clearer how detached President Bush is from the priorities of the American people,” Reid said in a statement. “By vetoing a bipartisan bill to renew the successful Children’s Health Insurance Program, President Bush is denying health care to millions of low-income kids in America.”

President Bush’s veto, which will prevent 35,000 uninsured children in Nevada from gaining health care, comes despite overwhelming support of the American people to expand the program, according to a press statement from the Nevada Democratic Party.

According to a recent poll by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 86 percent of the American people support reauthorizing the program, with seven in 10 saying they support the Democratic plan to expand SCHIP by $35 billion over five years.

Derby called on Nevada’s delegation of Sen. John Ensign, Rep. Dean Heller and the Republican presidential candidates to stand up to President Bush and join Democrats in voting to override President Bush’s veto.

Both Ensign and Heller voted against the SCHIP bill in Congress.

“President Bush and the Republicans trying to replace him may think it makes sense to turn their backs on Nevada’s children, but John Ensign and Dean Heller have an opportunity to stand with Democrats in standing up for kids in the Silver State,” Derby said in a press statement.

“Allowing President Bush’s reckless and irresponsible veto to stand means denying thousands of Nevada children the opportunity to see a doctor, receive preventative care and live healthier and happier lives,” Derby said. “Republicans like John Ensign and Dean Heller should have the courage to do the right thing and stand up to President Bush by joining Democrats in fighting for the families and children of Nevada.”

The president argued that the Democratic bill was too costly, took the program too far beyond its original intent of helping the poor, and would entice people now covered in the private sector to switch to government coverage. He has proposed only a $5 billion increase in funding. After Bush’s speech, White House counselor Ed Gillespie said the president’s offer of more money meant more than the $5 billion extra, but he wasn’t specific about how much more.

– Associated Press writer Jennifer Loven and Tahoe Daily Tribune Web editor Jeff Munson contributed to this report.


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