Oregonians should applaud Oregon U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, Darlene Hooley and David Wu for voting to approve a compromise bill reauthorizing and expanding the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Vote result on Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act
OCPP news release, Report Shows Benefits to Oregon’s Kids and the Economy if Congress Makes Good on Budget Promise for Health Care May 24, 2007
Unfortunately, because Representative Greg Walden and others voted to side with the President and the tobacco industry and against the nation’s uninsured children, the bill passed short of a veto-proof majority. The Senate is expected to support the compromise agreement in a vote later this week.
Leading up to the House’s vote, the President reiterated his promise to veto the children’s health insurance bill, claiming that it “goes too far toward federalizing health care.” The statement, sadly, demonstrates the administration’s willingness to risk the health of millions of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens simply because the bill does not fit into its rigid ideological framework.
If the President does carry through on his threat to veto the popular children’s health insurance plan, it will be up to Congress, including Oregon’s Greg Walden, to decide whether to side with the President and leave behind some 4 million uninsured children nationwide, including tens of thousands in Oregon, or to override his veto and strengthen health care for the children of Oregon and the nation.
Representative Walden’s vote against children’s health care is disturbing because the compromise bill addressed concerns he expressed in rejecting an earlier version of the bill. The compromise bill focuses exclusively on children and targets only the lowest-income uninsured children.
President Bush’s alternative plan for children’s health care would only invest an additional $5 billion over the next five years – an amount vastly insufficient for the nation and for Oregon. The President’s plan would fail to provide sufficient funds merely to continue Oregon’s program at the current level, much less safeguard more of the state’s more than 100,000 uninsured children.
In the days after the Senate votes on the bill, we will hope that President Bush and Representative Walden will have a change of heart and support health care for our most vulnerable children.
The Oregon Center for Public Policy is a non-partisan research institute that does in-depth research and analysis on budget, tax, and economic issues. The Center’s goal is to improve decision making and generate more opportunities for all Oregonians.