The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons issued the following statement from Kathryn Serkes, director of policy and public affairs, in response to the House of Representative’s failure today to override President Bush’s veto of a bill to reauthorize and expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP):
“We support the President’s veto of this massive, messy bill that would have spent almost as much money on doctors and seniors as it would have on children’s medical care.
“This bill is an example of the worst of political sausage-making. In the old joke, we’re warned that we really don’t want to know what’s chopped up and thrown in the pot to get the end product.
“This bill is like an extremely expensive sausage filled with mystery meats that have nothing to do with delivering medical care to poor children who have no other means to get it. And no one has bothered to analyze the contents.
“Some physician and other groups are cynically using the cry ‘for the kids’ to advance their own agendas and self-interests when in reality, about HALF – or more than $10 billion a year -- is diverted to doctors and seniors.
“The numbers tell the story: according to the AMA’s action alerts, over ten years about $117 billion was allocated to doctors and seniors, with $129 billion for children’s programs. It includes almost $70 billion for physician Medicare payments, a pet project of the American Medical Association; about $50 billion for Medicare beneficiaries; and cuts physician-owned hospitals off at the knees, a blow to patients of all ages but a big win for the American Hospital Association.
“Also, it does such a bad job of targeting assistance to truly needy children that it isn’t even on the radar screen. About 60 percent of children currently eligible already have private insurance, and more than 75 percent eligible under this expansion already have private insurance.
“Since so many families well above the poverty level are included in this bill, a much simpler and effective strategy to get them affordable insurance would be to allow them to purchase insurance policies outside their own states. This would open up the markets for families held hostage by states with massive mandates and regulatory costs that drive up insurance premiums, such as New Jersey.
“Rather than sue the federal government to force the SCHIP reauthorizations, governors and attorneys general would do well to consider the model legislation passed this summer by the state legislator members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) called ‘Health Care Choice Act for States.’ This simple act would increase the buying power of millions of SCHIP-eligible families without burdening the taxpayers or paying off the doctors.”