Baucus Encourages Override of Children’s Health Insurance Veto

By Beacon Staff

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana asked his colleagues on Saturday to override President Bush’s veto of legislation that would expand a popular children’s health insurance program.

“Every Republican must decide whether they will stand with the president and his veto, or stand with our children and their right to a healthy future,” Baucus said in his party’s weekly radio address.

House Democrats have scheduled a vote this week to override the president’s veto of legislation that would increase spending for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program by $35 billion over five years. Bush has called for a $5 billion increase.

The effort is not expected to succeed. An override requires a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate, and the earlier House vote fell about two dozen votes short. The Senate approved the increase by a veto-proof margin.

The program provides health insurance to children in families with incomes too great for Medicaid eligibility but not enough to afford private insurance. Bush has said the bill is too costly, goes beyond the program’s original intent and shifts too much insurance burden onto the government rather than private providers.

Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said Tuesday that Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt had called him seeking to compromise on the bill, but he refused.

“We want to prevail,” Baucus said then.

He said Saturday that the president is telling millions of parents that they don’t deserve the same basic care for their kids that Bush had for his.