In the face of an expected presidential veto on the expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which both houses of Congress approved in early August, a poll by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that Americans of all political persuasions overwhelmingly support the program.
SCHIP currently provides health insurance coverage for more than six million children whose parents' earnings are too high for Medicaid, yet not high enough for private health insurance. Despite the program's success, census figures show there are nearly nine million uninsured children in America, most of whom live with parents who work but earn modest incomes.
The poll, conducted by Republican pollster Bill McInturff working with Public Opinion Strategies, surveyed nine hundred registered, likely voters across the country. Nearly nine in ten (86 percent) said they support reauthorizing SCHIP, and 63 percent indicated they support expanding SCHIP's budget by $35 billion over five years. Respondents were in support of reauthorization regardless of political party, with 77 percent of Republicans, 93 percent of Democrats, and 86 percent of independents in favor. Moreover, voters were approved of reauthorization even when the costs were explained — $39 billion over five years to maintain the program in its current state, according to the Congressional Budget Office — 64 percent of Republicans supported the program, 86 percent of Democrats; and 78 percent of independents. Expansion of SCHIP was even supported by a majority of self-identified conservatives (53 percent), and half of them disagreed with President Bush's decision to veto the SCHIP legislation passed by Congress.
"This poll shows that voters of all political stripes recognize the value of SCHIP for keeping America's kids healthy," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "The message is clear: Americans want SCHIP renewed and strengthened. Most uninsured children are already eligible for SCHIP, but they do not participate because of insufficient funding or enrollment barriers. Congress and the White House now have the opportunity to give millions of vulnerable children the health coverage they need to thrive and succeed. Without more support for SCHIP, millions of kids will remain uninsured."