House to Vote on Kids' Insurance President Bush recently nixed the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Now lawmakers in Washington are considering whether to override Bush's veto.
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House to Vote on Kids' Insurance

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House to Vote on Kids' Insurance

House to Vote on Kids' Insurance

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RACHEL MARTIN, host:

Hey, good morning everyone.

There's a standoff brewing in Washington. President Bush has vetoed a bipartisan bill to expand a children's health care program. Tomorrow, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on whether to override that veto. The program's called the SCHIP, or the State Children's Health Insurance Program, and lawmakers want to expand it to cover kids whose families make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance.

NPR, along with the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, have conducted a poll measuring public perceptions of the bill. And NPR's health correspondent Julie Rovner is on the phone with me to talk about the results.

Hey, Julie, break it down for us. What came out of this poll?

JULIE ROVNER: Well, what came out of this poll is that there is very strong public support for this program - almost 70 percent. And then after you tell people what the arguments are for and against, it's still 65 percent. But, of course, on a veto override, you need two-thirds. And it's a little bit short of that. And that's pretty much what we think the vote's going to be tomorrow.

MARTIN: What did this poll say? What did it bear out about public perceptions as compared to what the president has been saying about this bill?

ROVNER: Well, there's - the president got two main problems with this bill. One is he says that it goes too high in terms of income of kids who would be covered, and that seems - the public seems to agree with the president on that. Only about a third of people think that people with incomes of $60,000 should be covered under this program, and only 15 percent of people think that people with incomes of $80,000 should be covered.

Now, I quickly need to point out that's not actually in the bill, although the president keeps saying that it is. On the other hand, the president said he vetoed the bill because it would be a step towards National Health Insurance. Half the people surveyed said it wouldn't, and of the 40 percent who said that it might be a step towards National Health Insurance, half of those said, yeah, it might, but that would be a good thing.

MARTIN: Mm-hmm. While I've got you on the phone, one last question. How do you think this - there's been a lot of editorials in papers today. There's a lot of hype expected surrounding this vote. What do you think is going to come out of this?

ROVNER: Well, it looks like the Democrats are going to fall short of the two-thirds that they need. There's been an enormous amount of pressure on about 20 Republicans to get them to change their vote, and they probably haven't. So the veto override's going to be, you know, probably not enough. And then after that, I think they're going to sit down and see if they can negotiate some kind of compromise.

MARTIN: Great, Julie. NPR's health correspondent, Julie Rovner. Thank you very much.

ROVNER: You're very welcome.

MARTIN: A couple other news stories to update you on.

Some Congress members from both parties are stepping back from a resolution blaming Turkey for genocide during World War I. The resolution passed a key House committee vote a couple of weeks ago. It calls the killing of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 an act of genocide. The vote has put a massive rift in U.S.-Turkish relations, and it could have a major impact in the war in Iraq, as Turkey considers whether to conduct military action against Iraqi Kurds. Almost a dozen - a dozen House members, rather, have withdrawn their support since. They say it's not worth passing a resolution about something that happened so long ago when it could derail American foreign policy in the Middle East today.

Finally, a sports update for you. In baseball playoffs, the Indians beat the Red Sox 7 to 3 in game four of the American League Championship Series. The series continues tonight. The winner will take on the Colorado Rockies in the World Series.

And I want to give you a happy update on a story we told you about a couple of weeks ago. Remember Kevin Everett? The Buffalo Bills tight end who was injured in a game so badly that doctors initially said, if he survived at all, he'd be paralyzed from the neck down. Well, it seems Everett has defied expectations. There are reports this week that Everett can push himself up on a walker and move his legs with the help of a wheelchair, which is really good news.

That's the news, and it's always online at npr.org.

Unidentified Man: This is NPR.

MARTIN: Luke and Alison, back to you. We also need to mention, it's Julie Rovner's birthday today.

BURBANK: Rovner, how about we mention her last name.

MARTIN: Oh, Rovner. I'm sorry, Julie Rovner.

BURBANK: That's the third time. We owe her a Danish or something.

MARTIN: (unintelligible). She got up early. Thanks.

STEWART: Well, Happy Birthday, Julie.

BURBANK: Happy Birthday, Julie Rovner.

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