Advocates Fight for Reauthorization of S-CHIP - - Jackson, MS

Jackson 10/11/07

Advocates Fight for Reauthorization of S-CHIP

 By Jon Kalahar


President Bush's veto of the S-chip reauthorization act has left health care coverage for thousands of Mississippi children in limbo. Congress will attempt to override that veto with a vote next week.  

But this afternoon, parents and advocates of the new bill rallied in downtown Jackson in hopes Mississippi congressmen will listen.

"We are appalled at the statements of our Governor and our senators and members of our congressional representation," said Oleta Fitzgerald. Executive director of Children's Defense Fund.

Speaking just below the Jackson office of senator Trent Lott, the Children's Defense Fund joined by parents and grandparents asked Mississippi's congressmen to vote to override the President's veto.

"Do the right thing for the citizens of this state. The reality is that our children are suffering because they lack health care," said Pam Shaw, Children's Defense Fund.

Right now, 60 thousand children receive health care coverage through S-chip. But that still leaves more that 70 thousand who don't receive any coverage. T

he mostly Democrat sponsored S-chip reauthorization act will increase funding by 35 billion dollars through a 61 cent per pack tax on tobacco products.

From Mississippi, only Benny Thompson voted in favor of the new legislation. The governor, joined by three of four representatives and senators Lott and Cochran believe a compromise should be reached that covers all uninsured Mississippi children.

That plan calls for an eight billion dollar funding increase per year, and like the original children's health insurance plan calls for 95 percent of eligible children to be enrolled before allowing adults.

Senator Lott believes a compromise can be reached, he says,

"What divides the congress is the attempt by some to transform S-chip into an expensive precursor of universal, government-mandated health care.   Clearly there are grounds for a compromise that protects our children and at the same time keeps faith with the American taxpayers."

Proponents of the reauthorization act say waiting won't help the children who need health care now.

"Let's give it a shot at getting as many children as we can, I'd rather have more children than no children," said Shaw.

The vote to override President Bush's veto comes next week. The house needs 12 votes to do that, if not congress has until the middle of November to work out a compromise.

S-chip is will run out in mid-November unless the vote to override the veto is accomplished. There is also a possibility congress could vote to extend the current S-chip program for 18 months if a compromise can not be reached.

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