Save Children’s Health Care

For a PDF version of this, click here: Children’s Health

In the fall of 2007, President George W. Bush vetoed legislation that would have continued the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) for 6.6 million kids and expanded it to cover an additional 4 million children of low-income families.

USAction built the multi-million dollar Campaign to Save Children’s Health Care, a coalition that included AFSCME, the AFL-CIO, SEIU,, Americans United for Change and others.

Along with our Florida affiliate, Florida Consumer Action Network, we introduced the world to young Bethany Wilkerson.

In 2005, Dara and Bo Wilkerson learned that their three-week-old daughter, Bethany, had been born with several holes in her heart. Bethany had heart surgery when she was six months old.

The Wilkerson family lived in Tampa on a total annual income of $34,000 – they weren’t poor, but like millions of other working families, they couldn’t afford private insurance. And even if they could, Bethany’s pre-existing condition – the heart problem she was born with – made enrollment in a private plan impossible.

But thanks to Florida’s KidCare program – that state’s SCHIP – Bethany got the care she needed to recover from her lifesaving surgery.

Bethany was the centerpiece of a nationwide TV blitz – at one point, her picture was captured by Dateline NBC while sitting on Nancy Pelosi’s lap – and USAction affiliates staged 75 events in 22 states to build support for overriding President Bush’s veto.

Although we were unsuccessful with the veto override, we helped frame the discussion and build the movement for what would be a successful 2008 electorally and, in the long haul, expansion of SCHIP as one of President Obama’s first acts after he took office.

We are USAction. We are the true majority.