Vitale Points to New Poll Revealing Majority of Americans Want SCHIP

National Poll Shows 9 in 10 Want to See Health Care Program for Uninsured Reauthorized

TRENTON – Pointing to a new national poll showing that nine in 10 Americans want to see the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) reauthorized, Senate Health Committee Chairman Joe Vitale today said the President’s opposition to the program is “out of touch with the opinion of a vast majority of Americans’.”

Referencing the poll’s findings that 86 percent of voters supported reauthorization, compared to 11 percent who opposed it, Senator Vitale, (D- Woodbridge) said, “This is an issue that’s so important that people across generational, economic and party lines can come to a consensus. The Bush Administration’s stubborn insistence that SCHIP be drastically reduced is so far removed from the general public’s wishes that it brings into question who this President is really serving with his short-sighted healthcare agenda.”

According to Senator Vitale, SCHIP is the federal program which provides matching funds to states to provide health care coverage for uninsured children. This year, SCHIP has been threatened by President Bush’s opposition to the program, and his threatened veto over any legislation to reauthorize it.

“In New Jersey, we rely on SCHIP to help cover the costs of New Jersey FamilyCare, and vital health coverage for thousands of families who would otherwise do without,” said Senator Vitale. “A Presidential veto of reauthorizing legislation would mean a health care crisis for New Jersey’s low and middle-income families.”

Senator Vitale said the national survey, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies on behalf of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, showed that nearly nine out of 10 voters supported reauthorizing SCHIP for another five years. In addition, roughly two thirds of those polled said they “strongly favor” reauthorization, and a majority supported expanding the program’s budget by an additional $35 billion over five years.

“Despite overwhelming support from most Americans, the President is ignoring the value of SCHIP,” said Senator Vitale. “Time and again, the President has shown a damaging go-it-alone mentality and disregard for what’s important to average American taxpayers.”

Senator Vitale continued to express hope that Congress would have the votes necessary to override any Presidential veto on SCHIP legislation, and said he would continue to fight for reauthorization and, eventually expansion. Earlier in the year, Senator Vitale testified in Washington, D.C., on the need to reauthorize the program.

“In the void of leadership at the top on this essential healthcare program, I hope Congress can step up and protect funding for uninsured children across the nation,” said Senator Vitale. “If this poll’s numbers are reflected in the beliefs of our country’s congressmen, we should have no trouble reauthorizing SCHIP for an additional five years, and beyond.”