Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Bush offers hope on SCHIP, but cigar smokers must keep the pressure on

By Gary Korb

I'll start with some good news. The President will veto S. 1893 – Children's Health Insurance Reauthorization Act of 2007 in its current form. Following are some of the highlights contained in the "Statement Of Administration Policy" which was sent to the Senate on July 30th.

However, the Administration's statement should not dissuade you from continuing to write to your Senators - and even more importantly at this stage - your Congressmen. The quickest and easiest way to do so is by going through the RTDA.org.

(From Statement Of Administration Policy, dated July 30, 2007)
"The bill discourages States from efficiently managing their allotments by increasing SCHIP allotments at a growth rate well above their projected spending and by creating new funding sources in addition to State allotments. The legislation would create two new funds that appear to encourage States to overspend their budgets. The legislation purposefully sets excessive and unnecessary allotment levels that are designed to spill over into the new 'Incentive Fund...'

The bill is inconsistent with the principle of choice for American consumers and instead goes too far in federalizing health care. A competitive private market for health insurance is better policy than a government-run system that would mean lower quality, longer lines, and fewer options for patients and their doctors. S. 1893 would cause millions of individuals to drop their private insurance in order to be involved with a government insurance plan. Many of the gains in SCHIP under this legislation will be offset by losses in private health insurance coverage because the proposed SCHIP expansion targets families at income levels where most children already have private health insurance coverage. As a result, the true net increase in coverage for children is estimated to be between 40 and 50 percent of the increase in enrollment levels under SCHIP. As a result, the cost per each newly insured individual under the bill would be $3,950 in 2012 in combined Federal and State spending. The Administration is deeply concerned that S.1893 will result in the expenditure of billions of dollars that will merely replace what otherwise would have been spent by families meeting their own obligations to care for their children..."

Here's the key statement...
"The Administration also strongly opposes the proposed tax increases contained in the legislation. The use of tax increases to fund spending increases is undesirable and inadvisable. The Administration is concerned about the negative impact on State budgets from the loss of direct revenue and the uncertain impact this may have on States and bondholders in relation to the tobacco Master Settlement Agreements."

Finally, again, don't be complacent - keep the heat on. Moreover, in an email I received from a Famous Smoke Shop customer, he emphasized: "[Generic] email is treated as junk, with their contents not read or tallied. You need to inform your friends and customers to email their Senators [and Congressmen] DIRECTLY. The email addresses are simply, http:/senator'slastname.senate.gov, and http:/congressman'slastname.house.gov. If people are serious about this, they need to make their sure their communications are heard and counted."

Click the link to read the entire Statement Of Administration Policy in Acrobat Reader.

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