By Joel Hall
Some 280,000 children in Georgia will be without health care in January, unless the Congress overrides a presidential veto of the State Children's Health Insurance Program -- also known as PeachCare in the state of Georgia -- or the program is given a one-year extension, says U.S. Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.).
Scott, who represents Georgia's 13th Congressional District, called the president's veto "a slap in the face to America's families ...," some of whom are now serving in the military, and to members of both political parties.
"This is a president that is very hostile to this children's health-care program ... there is no other way to explain it," said Scott. "I would much prefer going with the one-year extension, until we get a president with more sensitivity to health-care issues."
As the holiday season approaches, the congressman urged Georgians to think about the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
Established in 1997, PeachCare was created to provide health insurance for the children of the working poor and those living below the poverty line. As a result of the president's recent veto of an expansion of the SCHIP program, the funding for PeachCare will run out on Jan. 1, if congress is unable to override the veto.
To renew the program for five more years would cost $35 billion dollars, but Scott said he is fighting for a one-year extension -- at a cost of $7 billion -- if the override is unsuccessful.
"People need to get mad and angry about this," said Scott. "How can you even eat your Thanksgiving turkey when you know your president has done this. While we celebrate Thanksgiving, should we not make it a cause to give children proper health care?"
Gov. Sonny Perdue has appealed to both Congress and the president to extend the PeachCare program. U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) have opposed the PeachCare expansion because they believe it would make Georgia taxpayers responsible for the health care of children in other states, whose parents can afford health care.
"This is a cheap shot at the program," said Scott. "The cost of living varies from place to place. They know that there are safeguards in this bill that people who don't deserve that money ... the state has a way to weed those people out. The state has the opportunity to cut out anybody."
Scott went on to say that 68 out of 100 of the nation's senators, including 18 Republicans, are supporting the bill, in addition to 43 out of 50 governors, 16 of whom are Republican.
"The governor is begging for this program," said Scott. "The Georgia Legislature is begging for this program. I think there is a reluctance on [the senators] part to stand up to the president."
Scott said that the bill would affect 10 million children across the country, many of whom are children of military service men and women who don't make enough to afford adequate health insurance.
"Insuring our children is the most cost-effective method," to lowering the cost of health care, said Scott. "It costs less than $3.50 a day to cover a child through this PeachCare program ... less than it costs for a pack of cigarettes. This is a very curious example of what is wrong with the priorities in this country."
Scott said that he would urge Congress to vote on the veto override before they recess for the holiday season.