President Bush’s Veto Denies Health Insurance to 10 Million Children

The bipartisan children's health insurance bill that passed the House and Senate by strong majorities provides health insurance for 10 million children. The House will vote tomorrow to try to override President Bush's veto, which denies critical health care coverage to children of hard-working families struggling with the high cost of insurance.

President Bush has often referred to himself as “The Decider,” but which one of these families would the President forbid health care coverage?

The Wilkerson family in St. Petersburg, Florida?

“'This is personal not only to us … but for millions of parents across the United States,' said Bethany’s mother, Dara, in a telephone call Monday with reporters about why she and her husband, Bo, are allowing such a focus on their daughter.

“Dara Wilkerson said Bethany had to have heart surgery in 2005 when she was 6 months old, after doctors told them she had been born with two holes in her heart and a valve that didn’t close as it should.

“The Wilkersons said their annual household income is about $34,000 from their jobs, and they cannot afford private insurance.

“But even if they could, Bethany’s 'pre-existing condition' – the heart problem she was born with – made enrollment in a private plan impossible, her mother said. Thanks to Florida’s version of SCHIP, the state KidCare program, she said Bethany gets the care she needs to recover from her lifesaving surgery.” [Tampa Tribune, 10/16/07]

The Spaeth family in Owenton, Kentucky?

“Any day now, Tonya Spaeth will give birth to a baby whose health care is the subject of contentious debate on Capitol Hill…

“For the Spaeth family such matters go far beyond political debate. The baby’s two older siblings have spent most of their lives on Kentucky’s version of the program, KCHIP, which insures 51,000 uninsured, low-income children who don’t qualify for Medicaid. The Spaeths pay $1 or $2 for prescription medication and a $20 monthly premium.

“Mom and dad both work, but are unable to afford private health insurance, which would run about $400 a month.” [Lexington Herald Leader, 9/28/07]

The Mackey family in Memphis, Tennessee?

“When Barbara Mackey’s sister sent her an e-mail earlier this year about Tennessee’s new CoverKids health insurance program, she jumped at the chance to enroll two of her children, who were uninsured and disliked one of the home remedies she used to keep them from having to seek medical care…

“CoverKids is making a difference for Mackey, who said she earns less than $20,000 per year in her job as a bookkeeper at a church day care center in South Memphis. The center offers health insurance to employees but not their dependents.

“Mackey said three of her four children were covered under the TennCare health insurance program for the poor, but lost coverage in early 2005 when the state ruled that the family’s income was too high to qualify.” [Commercial Appeal, 10/4/07]

The Hunter family in Smithfield, North Carolina?

“The future of Health Choice is critical to people such as Lisa Hunter of Smithfield. Hunter said that if her 8-year-old daughter Sterling had not recently qualified for Health Choice, she would be hard pressed to pay for insulin and other supplies to manage her child’s Type I diabetes. Sterling, who was diagnosed in May, needs two types of insulin, one of which costs $500 a month.

“'That’s not counting lancets, alcohol wipes, syringes. It’s not counting test strips, which cost $60 for a box of 50,' said Hunter, who is self-employed as a real estate agent and cannot afford health insurance for herself. 'If it were just up to me to pay for all of that, I would be devastated. It’s like having another mortgage.'” [The News & Observer, 10/4/07]

Linda Shealey's son Keegan Lemke in Hampton Roads, Virginia?

“Lemke’s a single mom, Linda Shealey can only afford insurance for herself through her full time job.

“Linda Shealey explained to, 'It’s in excess of 4 or 500 a month for family care and that’s just not something you can afford to do when you’re the only one bringing in a salary.'…

“She believes that without S-CHIP, her ‘outgoing’ son would not be involved in extracurricular activities, like sports.

“'I don’t think I’d let him do it if I didn’t have the insurance. And it has built his strength and his self-confidence.'” [WAVY-TV, Channel 10, 10/10/07]

The Soca family in Willingboro, New Jersey?

“…Teresa Soca of Willingboro, a nursing home attendant and part-time housekeeper, said Saxton doesn’t understand how important SCHIP is to her and her four children.

“'I don’t want this taken away from us,' she said. 'My kids wouldn’t make it without it.'

“Soca said she works two jobs but can’t afford health insurance. Her family receives health care through NJ Family Care, a state-run health insurance program for children funded by SCHIP.” [Burlington County Times, 10/17/07]

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