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WE COULD mention that the U.S. House of Representatives has drafted a bill on the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) that could be up for a vote as soon as today. This "do-over" is in response to a veto by President Bush, sustained by Congress last week, of a bill that would have expanded SCHIP to include many more children in the popular program that provides affordable health insurance to low- and middle-income families.

But that's not what's important today.

We could also mention the irony of a president who, days after he vetoed spending $35 billion over five years to expand health-insurance coverage to four million more children, requested $46 billion more to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This brings the request for war spending to $196.4 billion . . . for this year alone.

War appropriations could reach $1 trillion by the time Bush leaves office.

But that's not what's important today.

Today, it's important to remind parents that they have a part to play in the future of SCHIP: Enroll their children, if eligible.

This may be a counterintuitive message at a time that states are fretting that their enrollees are going to be cut from the program. But the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has been doing a good job with SCHIP, both in aggressively signing up families and in anticipating the current crisis. The state Insurance Department says that the program, which provides affordable health insurance to families up to 300 percent of the poverty level and beyond, is funded until next May.

They have not, nor do they intend to "disrenroll" children.

The state is concerned that if enrollments drop because of the scary messages coming out of Washington, the state's funding, which is based on enrollments, could be cut.

SCHIP is not a handout. Although it provides free health insurance to poor families - 150,000 children now get free health insurance - it allows families who are not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid to purchase health insurance at a reduced rate. At higher-income levels, families pay the full cost.

Families should call 1-800-986-KIDS or visit to check for eligibility. Taking that action can help not only your own kids, but all kids. *