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Physician Groups Press Congress to Override SCHIP Veto


WASHINGTON -- The AMA said it was "deeply disappointed" with President Bush's veto of the SCHIP reauthorization, and the American Academy of Pediatrics called the action "hurtful to children."

WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 -- The AMA said it was "deeply disappointed" with President Bush's veto of the SCHIP reauthorization, and the American Academy of Pediatrics called the action "hurtful to children."

Both physician groups said they would join other "child advocacy groups" to press Congress to over-ride the veto.

The bill added billion to funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Plan, money that supporters said was needed to maintain minimal coverage for low-income children.

Bush's action was "pennywise and dollar foolish" and many of the arguments put forth by the White House were flat wrong, said Jay E. Berkelhamer, M.D.,of Atlanta, president of the pediatrics academy.

Dr. Berkelhamer said the AAP was planning to hit the ground running so that it could be sure Congress has the necessary two-thirds majority needed to override the president.

Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif), the Speaker of the House, said she expected the ove-ride vote to come the week of Oct. 15.

If all 433 current members of the House voted, the Democrats would need 289 votes to win.

During the vote on final passage last week, the House voted 265-159 in favor of the legislation, with one "present" vote and eight lawmakers absent.

If Democrats are successful in the House, the legislation will go to the Senate, where the bill originally passed by 67 votes-the margin needed to override the veto.

Bush has argued that the legislation expanded SCHIP in a way that allowed government insurance to "crowd out" private insurance that was available to children through their parents' employers.

Dr. Berkelhamer said, "that is just not true. This issue has been examined in the past and it is just not a factor."

He characterized the veto as "hurtful to children" and based on objections that he call "silly."

Meanwhile, Edward Langston, M.D., who chairs the AMA's board of trustees, said his organization was "deeply disappointed in the president's veto of bipartisan legislation to protect the health of America's low-income children. The program is vital to protect low-income children whose parents work hard, but aren't able to afford health insurance."

In a prepared statement the pediatrics academy said, that "only when this nation re-established children as its top priority, will we face a future of potential and promise."

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