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Congress rallying support to override Bush's SCHIP veto

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WILMINGTON -- Children's health care is again center stage after President Bush did what he said he'd do. The president vetoed a major expansion of the SCHIP program that would have made more children eligible for federal health insurance. Democrats on Capitol Hill -- and many republicans -- support the expansion. In fact, they'll try to override the veto in two weeks. Reaction was swift after the president vetoed a plan to expand the state children's health insurance program to $60 billion over the next five years. Bush argued it would be a step towards socialized medicine. "I believe in private medicine, not the federal government running the health care system," Bush said. Expanding SCHIP would cover more than six million kids whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but can't afford private insurance. The bill would have maintained the current enrollment and added nearly three and a half million more children to the program. The veto could have a profound impact. Seventy-two-percent of Americans -- including the majority of republicans -- believe in expanding SCHIP. Supporters in Congress are rallying support to over-ride the president's veto. Among them is North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, who issued this statement: "Over 122,000 North Carolina children rely on SCHIP for health insurance, and we must continue the program," Burr said. Sen. Burr calls the legislation a positive step forward by taking a program meant to help low-income children and using it to provide healthcare for others. Gov. Easley is in Washington, also trying to drum up support for the SCHIP program. "Without the increases in the bill," he said Thursday, "North Carolina will be short $61 million next year, the amount needed to cover 30,000 children, as federal money will run out." But not everyone on Capitol Hill is against the president. Sen. Elizabeth Dole voted against the bill. But while she supports the SCHIP program, she disagreed with the way the bill was structured -- an opinion echoed by Congressman Mike McIntyre. During a phone interview McIntyre said, "I truly support children's health insurance. I just don't like the methodology that was used to put this particular bill on the plate. It targets our regional economy, which, in turn, hurts families and economic opportunity, and secondly, opens up a Pandora's box for potential abuse." McIntyre voted against the bill. Local supporters are trying to convince him to change his mind and vote to over-ride the president's veto. They'll be holding a rally outside his office in Wilmington Thursday at six p.m. There will be more than 200 similar events across the country.

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