A slim-majority of 51 percent of North Carolina voters support the $35 billion expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) that passed Congress and was vetoed by President Bush.
The October DecisionMaker Poll conducted by the Civitas Institute indicates, however, that voters do not support the expansion of the program that the legislation established. As approved by Congress, SCHIP would be expanded to cover families of four who earn up to 400 percent over the poverty rate or approximately $82,000 a year. The Civitas study found that 26 percent of North Carolina voters agree with the expansion to include families of four who make between $62,000 and $82,000 a year, while 62 percent oppose the expansion.
A majority of 57 percent believes SCHIP should cap the age of children covered under the program at 19. When given the opportunity to pick the age when coverage should end, 21 percent said the top age limit should be 21 years of age. Only 13 percent would expand coverage to 24 years of age. The age limit enacted by Congress and vetoed by President Bush would expand coverage to anyone 24 years of age.
According to Civitas President Jack Hawke, President Bush has made the wrong arguments in defense of his veto. “It is obvious that the president has done an exceptionally poor job in explaining to voters the objectionable expansions Congress has included in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. He appears to base his objections on the cost factor and only 32 percent of voters agree with him when the only information they have is the cost of $35 billion.”
Hawke explained the Civitas survey indicates that President Bush would do better by explaining the increases in income (up to $82,000) and age (24-years) than the total cost. Hawke said, “A whopping 78 percent of voters believe increasing the age limit to 24 years is wrong and 62 percent believe the new income levels are too high. When the president appears to be against a health insurance program for poor children, he loses. If voters understand the congressional expansions, the president has a better chance to win the argument.”
Tel Opinion Research of Alexandria, Va. conducted the poll on October 9-14 with 800 registered voters who voted in the 2002 and 2004 general elections, were first time voters in the 2006 general election, or voted in 2004 and 2006 as newly registered voters. It has a margin of error of +-3.7 percent.