Despite Calling Himself A ‘Strong’ Supporter Of SCHIP As TX Gov, Bush Sought To Limit The Program

Before President Bush vetoed a bipartisan expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), he held a press conference on Sept. 20 to try to bully Congress into caving to his demands, calling them “irresponsible.” During the presser, he also declared “I have strongly supported S-CHIP as a governor, and I have done so as President.”

Bush’s claim to being a “strong” supporter of SCHIP as governor of Texas is laughable, according to former Texas Observer reporter Lou Dubose. Writing in the Washington Spectator yesterday, Dubose details how Bush tried to limit the program, setting the qualifying threshold at 150% of the poverty level, which would have insured only 300,000 of Texas’ 1.4 million uninsured kids:

Other Republican governors, such as Florida governor Jeb Bush, set the qualifying threshold at 200 percent of the national poverty level. Some went higher. In New Jersey, Governor Christine Todd Whitman, whom Bush would appoint as his first director of the Environmental Protection Agency, set the threshold at 300 percent, opening the program up to greater numbers of children. […]

The Democratic legislature prepared to budget for enrollment at 200 percent, which would have opened the program up to 500,000 of the state’s 1.4 million uninsured kids. Bush drew the line at 150 percent, which would have insured 300,000 kids.

Eventually, Bush yielded to political pressure and agreed “to the Democrats’ plan, with its enrollment of 500,000 children in the program.” After the bill was signed, Bush told one Democratic legislator, “Congratulations, you shoved it down our throat.”


As Dubose noted in a 1999 Nation article, at the same time Bush was fighting efforts to cover more children, he was also pushing “a tax break for oil-well owners.”

(HT: Dan Froomkin)