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

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. Madam Speaker, I think it is important to start by noting there is not, I don't think, a Member on either side of the aisle that doesn't support continuing the existing SCHIP program, continuing providing insurance coverage for 4.04 million American children. What we're debating is how you pay for an expansion beyond that, how you go from 200 percent of poverty level to a family of four that would be at 300 percent of poverty level. For the record, that's $61,950. Some of us believe that before you expand to 300 percent of poverty, or a family of four making nearly $62,000 a year, we should make sure that those kids who are in families that make enough that they don't qualify for Medicaid, that those from there on up to 200 or 250 percent of poverty actually are being insured by the States to whom we send this money back to.

There has been discussion that 10 million kids will be covered under the bill that the President vetoed. I wish somebody would give me a Congressional Budget Office summary that says that, because what CBO found when they analyzed this bill was that by 2012 there would be a total of 7.4 million kids insured under SCHIP under the bill we're debating tonight. If you've got a different document from CBO, I'd love see it. I've not seen it.

Further, CBO claims that the way this bill is structured, there would be 2 million children in America, 2 million of this 7.4 that either already have health insurance or have access to health insurance through their families or their families' employers. Two million. This is Congressional Budget Office data.

The effect of the way this bill is structured, those 2 million kids would probably be shifted onto a government plan. We ought to be trying to get kids who don't have access to health insurance first, and we should be trying to get the kids who are at the lower end of the economic scale insured first. Those are principles that we're fighting for in this.

Finally, two other points. I don't think it's asking too much that when a parent brings in their children and their children don't have ID, that the parent simply present ID, a driver's license, something that proves who they are when they certify these are their kids. That's something we're asking for.

The third and final point, this program, the way it's crafted under this legislation, even with the tax that's proposed, by the next 10 years, the end of 10 years, you have borrowed forward $80 billion, with a B, that has been borrowed, and in 2013, the program's out of money.

We have got enough of those Federal programs today. I mean Members on both sides of the aisle would have to agree that we haven't fixed the Medicare fix yet for docs. Their funding is going to be cut. I've got seniors in my district who can't get access to a physician.

Why would we enact a program today that we know, based on independent analysis, comes up $80 billion short? You take the money for 10 years and you spend it in the first 5. What happens after that? Isn't it better to create a program that takes care of kids who are on the lowest end of the economic scale but whose parents make too much to be in Medicaid, make sure they're covered first, make sure we're not crowding out people who have access to health insurance for their kids through their employer or some other way, and that they don't shift to save money for themselves from a government-run program?

At the end of the day, I think we all want to take care of kids' health needs. We want to do it in a responsible way, fiscally responsible, that can be sustainable so that we don't end up with kids on a cliff in 5 years because you spent the money that was allocated over 10 in the first 5 because you borrowed. That doesn't make sense.

I never knowingly in 21 years in small business entered into a contract that I knew I couldn't fulfill. This is a contract that can't be fulfilled the way it is crafted. We can do better than this. It doesn't have to be a campaign and political issue. It can be a policy issue that works.

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