CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Democrat Steve Black, who is seeking the OH-02 nomination, sends an open letter to Republican U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt urging her to change course and vote to override President Bush's SCHIP veto later this week. Black says she can redeem herself from an earlier vote to "gut this incredibly effective bipartisan program."
Black has to get past another Democrat -- physician and '06 Dem nominee Vic Wulsin. His move today is good politics; the children's health insurance is popular, and he has seized upon her opposition as an opportunity to revive the Mean Jean image that has dogged Schmidt since her days as a state legislator. Black doesn't come right out and call her Mean Jean, but he paints her opposition to SCHIP as near heartless.
Read on for the full-text of Black's letter to Schmidt:
October 15, 2007
U.S. Representative Jean Schmidt
238 Cannon House Office BuildingWashington, DC 20515
Dear Rep. Schmidt:
I am writing to ask that you vote to override the President's veto of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) reauthorization legislation. Although your "no" vote on this legislation sadly speaks for itself, I am sure the voters of the 2d District would like to hear the reasoning behind your vote to gut this incredibly effective, bipartisan program that promotes the health and well-being of America's children.
As you must know, the SCHIP reauthorization has had bipartisan support within Congress and from others, including the National Governors Association, the AARP, faith based groups, and numerous medical/health provider associations. If you studied the issue, you must also know that 80% of our uninsured are working families; the number of uninsured children skyrocketed by 710,000 last year alone; and ever fewer employers are insuring their workers and their families. And, finally, as you should know, uninsured children are 4 times likely to use expensive emergency room care than insured children, and are 2 ½ times more likely to go without care for an illness than insured children – a financial and social cost to us all. SCHIP has been a safety net for families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, but too low to afford private coverage. Since SCHIP began, the number of uninsured children has dropped significantly, with SCHIP currently enrolling 6.6 million children.
President Bush's target of allocating a $5 billion increase to SCHIP over the next five years will cut funding for approximately 21% of children currently enrolled. His veto, if allowed to stand, will also dash the hopes of millions more currently uninsured lower to lower middle income children who would be helped by the $35 billion SCHIP reauthorization, responsibly paid by for an increased cigarette tax. President Bush wrongly portrayed SCHIP as government run amok, a program that would deprive Americans of "choice and competition that comes from the private market."
Rep. Schmidt, there is NO choice available for millions of Americans who are excluded from the private market due to exorbitant premiums and insurers who "cherry pick" only the healthy. If the private market could have fixed this problem, wouldn't it have done so by now? Why did you reject this long-term investment in America's and Ohio's children? Healthy children learn better in school. Healthy children are more likely to be productive citizens. Healthy children should be America's priority. It is a priority of mine. You should make it yours. I ask you to put aside partisan politics and vote to override the President's veto.
Sincerely, Steve Black