Pardon me while I swig a calmative

Via Washington Monthly, I see that the Republicans are having some trouble with SCHIP.

“Our Democratic colleagues have gone back on many of the prior agreements that were reached in creating that bill last year, making this issue more contentious than it ought to be and setting a troubling precedent for future discussions on health care reform,” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell , R-Ky., said Tuesday.

Democrats’ SCHIP bill would expand the program by $32.8 billion over four and a half years, providing coverage for some 4 million previously uninsured children, they say.


Democrats said the changes they made were needed, and reasonable. They include eliminating a five-year waiting period for new, legal immigrant children and mothers to enroll in the program, slightly loosening identity requirements, and in some cases loosening family income limits on eligibility for SCHIP coverage.
For those of you unfamiliar with this program, SCHIP is the State Children's Health Insurance Program.  It is designed to cover children whose families make too much money for Medicaid, do not have insurance through an employer and cannot afford to purchase it.  Requirements for enrollment vary state by state.

Bush vetoed expanding this program twice, citing concerns that expanding it would have allowed families that could afford to purchase their own insurance to get government coverage instead.  The bill he vetoed would have allowed a family of four that makes less than roughly $62,000 to enroll.  The costs of purchasing private insurance vary a great deal from plan to plan and state to state, but the better plans can be quite costly, and the cheap plans often carry such high deductibles that they're worthless.  I don't know why Bush decided to use one of his rarely-wielded vetoes to be such a skinflint, but he's cooling his heels back in Texas now, so who cares.

But the economy is, as has been noted with some frequency these days, not doing so hot.  Taking the financial burden for insuring their children from families that are struggling seems to be as controversial as supporting free oxygen for everyone, and an odd choice for a game of philosophical chicken.  This bill would cover 4 million previously uninsured children.  Is the GOP so xenophobic that it would fight the bill because some of those children are (legal!!!) immigrants?

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