WOODBRIDGE – Senator Joseph F. Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, issued the following statement regarding President Bush’s veto today of bipartisan federal legislation which would dedicate $35 billion to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) over the next five years:
“President Bush’s threatened veto of billions of dollars in necessary health care resources for uninsured children has now become a reality. Once again, this Administration has shown where its priorities lie in terms of denying health care access for uninsured low- and middle-income families, and authorizing tax breaks for the wealthy.
“What’s even more galling about President Bush’s callous veto of SCHIP reauthorization is that he chose to do it two days after issuing a Presidential proclamation to commemorate ‘Child Health Day.’ It is the height of hypocrisy to issue hollow commendations when the President planned all along to eviscerate one of the greatest tools to achieve good health for all children, regardless of income or insurance status.
“Now, we must put the pressure on every member of Congress to vote their consciences and overturn the President’s veto, rather than tow the far-right party line. In the United States, we have a check against chief executives who have become completely out of touch with the wishes of the people. We must exercise this power, before states are forced to make tough choices when it comes to meeting their obligations to provide health care access to children in need.
“New Jersey will continue to do what is right when it comes to standing up for the hundreds of thousands of State residents who are served by federal SCHIP dollars. However, without federal support, our system can only help so many without beginning to cut into other worthy State programs.
“It is imperative that Congress fix the funding nightmare the President created by vetoing SCHIP reauthorization. Both parties need to come together, and show that the health and well-being of children across the nation are a bipartisan priority. The future of health care access for all who need it rests in the hands of our Congressional leaders.”