By now, we should all be aware of what the acronym “S-CHIP” stands for; the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. This popular program, which was started under President Bill Clinton’s administration, provided health insurance to 6.6 million American children in the year 2006 and since its inception in 1997, the number of uninsured low-income children in the U.S. has decreased by one-third [Source: Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center for Children and Families].
In Georgia, S-CHIP is the parent program of the popular PeachCare for Kids which (as of October 2007) has an enrollment of 274,440 [Source: Georgia Department of Community Health]. That is 274,440 Georgia children who are able to get the access to health care that they need in order to grow up healthy in this state.
PeachCare and S-CHIP are both good programs, and they are not (as Republicans would say) “entitlement programs.” No one is “entitled” to enroll in PeachCare and S-CHIP. There are standards, and eligibility is determined based on families’ income.
Unforunately, beginning in 2007, the Georgia Republican members of Congress have voted against re-authorizing this important program a whopping six times.
When the first S-CHIP bill came to the floor of the U.S. House & Senate, Georgia Republicans voted against it [Source: House Roll Call 906; Senate Vote 307]. When President Bush vetoed H.R. 976 and the House voted to override the President’s veto, once again, Georgia Republicans voted against it [Source: House Roll Call 982]. When the second S-CHIP bill came to the floor of the U.S. House & Senate, Georgia Republicans again voted against it [Source: House Roll Call 1009; Senate Vote 403]. Again, Bush vetoed it and again Georgia House Republicans voted against the veto override [Source: 2008 House Roll Call 22].
Even here in Georgia, an effort was made by the Speaker of the House to reduce the eligibility for PeachCare. Lucky for the state’s children, the Georgia Senate had the good sense to put a stop to Glenn Richardson’s foolishness.
As it concerns PeachCare and S-CHIP, a pattern of behavior has emerged among the Republicans. Publicly, Republicans say they’re for PeachCare and S-CHIP, but when it’s time for decisions to be made and votes to be cast, they’re against PeachCare and S-CHIP. Or even worse, they try to cut the program. Case in point, Saxby Chambliss told the Chattanooga Times Free-Press that he “supported it [S-CHIP] 10 years ago when we put it in place” and that he stills supports it, but when the time came to support re-authorization of the program, Sen. Chambliss voted against it…twice [Source: 1/5/2007 Chattanooga Times-Free Press article “Chambliss makes stop in Dalton”].
I don’t know if there is some deep-seated animosity towards this program. But what I do know is that the Republicans have consistently come down on the wrong side of this issue, and what I also know is that there is nothing right about failing to re-authorize this important program.
On this issue, the Republicans are as wrong as wrong can be.