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New Yorkers Brace for Another Round in S-CHIP Rumble

October 22, 2007

Albany, NY - The battle over children's health insurance coverage didn't end last week when the U.S. House failed to override President Bush's veto of a plan to renew and expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP). Some New York healthcare advocates still want to sustain the children's health program (called 'Child Health Plus' in New York) beyond its temporary extension date. It's currently set to expire on November 16.

Karen Schimke is with the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy says the veto gives new urgency to the campaign agendas of 2008's Presidential hopefuls.

"Children haven't stacked up well when other priorities of the Administration are being paid for, like the war in Iraq. We need to once again put children as the highest priority -– which certainly, they were not last week. This is a key issue that every Presidential candidate is going to need to talk about, clearly and unequivocally."

New York is one of four states currently suing the Bush administration over its denial of S-CHIP coverage for families that earn up to four times the federal poverty rate, but still are unable to afford private insurance because they live in areas where the cost of living has skyrocketed.

Schimke points to heavy burdens on New York families, where higher living costs and local economic stresses are combined with fewer employers offering health coverage for their workers' children.

"The economy in upstate New York is really struggling. There are many children and families in upstate New York who would meet any eligibility level, and our job now is simply to get them enrolled."

Schimke believes, despite the sustained veto, the issue of protecting children's health will not disappear. Instead, she predicts the debate will now shift from Congressional compromises to Presidential priorities.

Robert Knight/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - NY