President Bush on Wednesday, October 3, 2007, vetoed a bill that would renew and expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

SCHIP is a national health insurance coverage program for low-income families that is financed jointly with funds from federal and state governments. The bill would have expanded the program by $35 billion over the next five years and would have doubled the number of children covered under the plan from 4 million to 8 million.

Congress will vote on October 18 to override the President’s veto. Currently the Senate has enough votes to override the veto, but the House is still 15 votes short.

The original version of the bill included a 0.5 percent update in 2008 and again in 2009 for Medicare physician payments, but this provision was dropped in a later version of the bill. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) will work with the American Medical Association (AMA) to lobby Congress on the creation of a new bill that will include all provisions for positive updates to Medicare physician payments that were included in the SCHIP bill. The goal is to have a bill drafted by November 16, 2007, which is when Congress adjourns.

On Monday, October 1, 2007, President Bush signed HR 3668, which delays for six months the implementation of a mandate that requires pharmacists and physicians to write prescriptions on tamper-resistant paper. The original mandate was scheduled to take effect October 1, 2007, and pharmacists and physicians now have until April 1, 2008, to comply with the new mandate.