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Health Advocates Fear S-CHIP Veto Will Stand: What Next for NM Children?

October 5, 2007

Albuquerque, NM – Despite public protests and demands for an override, children's advocates in New Mexico concede that getting the necessary votes for a two-thirds majority in the U.S. House may not happen, and President Bush's veto of the children's health insurance funding bill (S-CHIP) will likely stand.

At the offices of New Mexico Voices for Children, Executive Director Eric Greigo says the focus now has shifted to minimizing the damage that the federal funding cuts will surely cause.

"We're going to continue to urge them to do the right thing but, in the end, I think we're going to have to go back to the drawing board and find a compromise that's going to be much worse than this. Many more kids are not going to get health insurance."

The bill to reauthorize S-CHIP passed Congress with significant bipartisan backing, and the Senate has enough votes to override the veto, but about two dozen more votes are needed in the House. Of New Mexico's House members, only Rep. Steven Pearce voted against it. His office did not respond to requests for comment, but Pearce has said he opposes expanding S-CHIP because, like President Bush, he sees it as a step toward socialized medicine that would cover illegal immigrants and children of middle-class families.

Greigo disagrees, saying the S-CHIP opponents are putting politics before principles.

"Unfortunately, I think the President and members of Congress, like Representative Pearce, really see this as an opportunity to make a political point rather than do what's right, for the American people and for American kids."

John Robinson/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - NM