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Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007 -- Veto Message From the President of the United States

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


CHILDREN'S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2007--VETO MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES -- (House of Representatives - October 18, 2007)

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Mr. HULSHOF. Madam Speaker, I yield myself 2 minutes.

Never in my wildest dreams would I imagine that on a day in August of 1997 that a Democratic President would sign a bill presented by a Republican Congress, and that that would be a high-water mark as far as consensus between a divided government, 10 years ago, the high-water mark of a divided government coming together to create a solution. I was here to help create the bill. In that instance, a Republican Congress worked with, negotiated with, compromised with the President of the other party to create a solution to the problem of children who had no health insurance.

Now, I would say, Madam Speaker, that the 2007 version of the Children's Health Insurance Program is almost unrecognizable from the original bill, and certainly beyond the original intent of that bill.

For instance, New Jersey currently has a planned amendment that would use income disregards which would allow it to raise its SCHIP eligibility levels to 350 percent of poverty. That's about $71,000 for a family of four. And don't just take my word for it. Look at section 114, subparagraph A under the bill. And that would continue under this bill.

Many adults without children would be eligible under this bill. Don't take my word for it. Read subparagraph A of section 112 of the bill. You know, the bill allows States to move them to Medicaid, but allows it to pay.

The Federal Government should not be, in my humble opinion, in the business of paying for States who want to cover childless adults that are grandfathered in this bill. And on behalf of my constituents in Missouri, should I ask them to reach in their pockets then and to pay for health care for a family of four in New Jersey making $70,000 or a family of four in New York making $80,000?

So it comes down to this. In fact, there are still 79,000 kids in Missouri, Madam Speaker, that are still at or below 200 percent of poverty. Those are the kids we need to reach out to to provide health insurance.

So the question at the end of this vote is this, to my friends on the other side, Do you want the politics or do you want the policy?

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Mr. HULSHOF. Before yielding to my friend from Texas, I yield myself such time as I may consume to respond to a previous speaker, the gentlelady from New Hampshire, who said that she would have voted against the original bill had she known or had she believed that, in fact, a family of four making $80,000 would qualify their children. Well, in fact, I would point the gentlelady to section 114, subparagraph A of the bill that allows income disregards.

And I would say to the distinguished chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, who pointed out that, yes, it was the administration that granted the waiver, there are some on this side who would suggest the administration has approved unwise waivers in the past. But even this administration has indicated to a particular Governor that before we allow this waiver to occur, in the instance of New Jersey, so many additional enrollees would have to meet the intent of the SCHIP program, to which the Governor said, ``I don't have to abide by that.'' And I find that a bit difficult to swallow as we then discuss whether this should be the law of the land.

I am now pleased to yield 1 minute to the distinguished gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hensarling).

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Mr. HULSHOF. Madam Speaker, I yield myself 1 1/2 minutes.

With all respect, Madam Speaker, I don't need to be lectured to by a Member who did not even support the original Children's Health Insurance Program.

The fact is that we reached compromise 10 years ago. And I recognize that the chairman of the Health Subcommittee can ram through a bill when you've got the votes, as the original bill was done, without any input from anybody else, that it's my way or the highway. And I recognize that when you have the votes, that's one way you can try to enact legislation.

So my question still stands, after this veto is sustained, Do you want the politics or do you want the policy? I hope the latter. Because I guarantee you we can have a meeting of the minds.

Mr. Camp and I, Mr. Boustany, in fact, introduced the Kids First Act that would reauthorize this program. It's similar to the alternative in the Senate that would increase State allotments by $14 billion over the next 5 years, that would allow 1.3 million new low-income children to be covered, that reimburses States at their Medicaid matching rate, fully offsets the bill without raising taxes, bolsters current provisions to provide premium assistance to kids who have access to private coverage so that we can better coordinate public and private programs to prevent the crowding-out effect.

So once this political effort is done, I hope we can have a meeting of the minds.

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