President Bush's veto of a re-authorized Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will block 56,000 currently uninsured Tennessee children from obtaining health care—this according to a study by Families USA
The Tennessee Health Care Campaign, together with several other family advocacy groups, is calling on Tennesseans to contact their Republican congressmen about a vote to override the veto scheduled on October 18, 2007. To date, Tennessee Republican congressmen David Davis, John Duncan, Zack Wamp and Marsha Blackburn have said that they will support Bush's veto and vote against the override initiative, despite the fact that CHIP has drawn broad bi-partisan support since its inception in 1997. At least 45 Republican congressmen are already committed to voting to override the veto, and others are expected to fall in line before the vote. The outcome, however, remains uncertain.
Tennessee's Republican senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker both voted for the original CHIP bill and have said that they will vote to override Bush's veto.
Opposition to CHIP from Tennessee's Republican congressmen is almost entirely ideological. Marsha Blackburn has said that the CHIP bill is a step toward the "federalizing" of American health care. What Ms. Blackburn overlooks is that the size of the CHIP expansion is vanishingly small compared to other "federalized" health care programs, Medicare and Medicaid. It would seem that ideology is being brandished in the face of efforts to provide health care for 56,000 uninsured Tennessee kids.
Opponents of the CHIP bill also allege that the size of the re-authorized CHIP is too large. At one point the White House alleged that the expansion would enable households with annual incomes as high as $83,000 to be eligible for CHIP, but that allegation has been proven demonstrably false. The actual number of children covered by the re-authorized CHIP would only increase by between 10 and 15 per cent. Even if Bush's veto is overridden, moreover, there will still be about 100,000 uninsured children in Tennessee, most of them from working class families.
Congress votes Thursday.