Bush to veto children’s health program

President Bush said he would veto the expansion of a children’s health-care program backed by Jewish groups.

In a press conference Thursday, Bush said he would reject the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or S-CHIP, because it would cover the children of middle-class families as well as the poor, apparently referring to a handful of states that use their own matching funds to make the program available to children in high-cost rent areas, including New York City.

An array of Jewish groups, including the United Jewish Communities, the Reform movement and the National Council of Jewish Women, back the expanded bill, believing it will reach about 4 million children not covered now.

“I have strongly supported S-CHIP as a governor, and I have done so as president,” Bush said. “My 2008 budget proposed to increase S-CHIP funding by $5 billion over five years. It’s a 20 percent increase over current levels of funding. Unfortunately, instead of working with the administration to enact this funding increase for children’s health, Democrats in Congress have decided to pass a bill they know that will be vetoed.”

Bush’s increase does not match inflation levels. The bill has strong bipartisan support on the state level, and a number of Republican governors have urged Bush to sign it.

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