Children’s activists call on Heller to override veto on children’s health-care bill | NevadaAppeal.com

Children’s activists call on Heller to override veto on children’s health-care bill

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal
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The political action group MoveOn.org is urging congressional Republicans nationwide to join Democrats and override President Bush’s veto of SCHIP, the children’s health insurance legislation.

One of more than 200 rallies in GOP House districts nationwide, a small group turned out in front of the Capitol on Thursday to ask Rep. Dean Heller, of Carson City, who represents Northern Nevada in the House of Representatives, to join Democrats in the override.

“In only his fourth veto ever, (Bush) blocked health-care coverage for millions of uninsured – and mostly poor – kids,” organization officials said in announcing the rally. “We need just 15 more Republicans in Congress to break with Bush to override the veto.”

“There are a few crumbs on the table for children and families that are struggling and I’d like to see them get the help,” said Brad Merrill, of Carson City at the rally.

He said it’s encouraging that “there are a few House Republicans that have decided the needs of children are more important than sectarian beliefs.”

Christie Aldinger, of Minden, said the issue is personal because her son had health problems as a child.

“Had we not had health insurance when he was small, he would not be a successful adult today,” she said.

Lana Galyean, of Carson City, said Bush’s veto was “irresponsible.”

“It’s extremely important we look after our children and this administration has been unwilling to do that,” she said.

According to the MoveOn.org, Nevada has one of the nation’s worst rates of uninsured children in the nation, with more than 100,000 not covered by any policy. About 34,000 children in Nevada are covered by SCHIP.

The program was created to provide health insurance to the children of the country’s working poor. Bush objected to the bill’s expansion of that program to provide health coverage to 10 million children from the 6 million it now serves.

In a letter to the Nevada Appeal, Heller said he strongly supports the SCHIP program but made it clear he won’t be one of the 15 needed to override the veto.

Heller, like the president, said he believes the changes by Democrats in Congress expand the program’s reach too far. He said the amended plan would allow government subsidized coverage for children in well-off families, “including those considered wealthy enough to pay the alternative minimum tax, a tax on ‘the rich’ which starts at $75,000 for an individual.”

He said Democrat changes to the plan also reduce protections which ensure illegal immigrants don’t sign up.

“Every illegal immigrant who remains on SCHIP rolls prevents a qualified citizen or legal resident child from receiving needed care,” he wrote.

“Once partisan politics are put aside, Congress will eventually pass a responsible SCHIP bill that the President can sign into law,” he concluded.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.