A needed cure
Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Senate are united in an effort to expand a children’s health-insurance program, even if that efforts is in defiance of a threatened veto by President Bush.
They are right in taking that stand against the president. The Democrats who pushed the measure and the Republicans who supported their effort have something to crow about as they leave the nation’s capital during Congress’ summer break.
This week, the Senate voted 68-31 to add three million lower-income children to the popular health-insurance program. That vote come a day after the House approved a more expensive and aspiring version in the face of strong Republican opposition.
The Senate vote gives Democrats a veto-proof margin on the legislation.
Sen. Max Baucus, a Democrat from Montana, expresses a feeling shared by many of the legislation’s supporters.
Baucus is right. Apparently, the president believes otherwise.
The president proposes allocating $5 billion to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which expires at the end of September. The president contends the Senate’s proposal to spend $35 billion to expand the program would inflate the program, which is about 10 years old, beyond its initial goal of providing health insurance to poor working parents and their children and move more people toward government-run health care, according to a report by The Associated Press.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky and the Senate minority leader, charges that the legislation’s writers “have seized the reauthorization of SCHIP as a license to raise taxes, increase spending and take a giant leap forward into the land of government-run health care,’’ according to The Associated Press.
Other Republicans charge that the current version of the program, which has expanded in many states to include adults and middle-income children, opens the door for providing government-run health care to more and more people.
The president and McConnell are wrong. The legislation is about helping children who can’t help themselves. The program subsidizes the cost of health insurance for children whose families earn too much money to take part in Medicaid but not enough to pay for private health insurance.
As for members of Congress who support the legislation, they may be behind the bill for a reason other than helping children. They likely are aware of national polls that indicate overwhelming numbers of voters who support expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and are more likely to support candidates who back the bill.
In days when bipartisan cooperation is almost always an oxymoron, learning that politicians — Democrats, Republicans and others — can and will come together to help meet the needs of children who need help is a lesson worth learning.
This legislation provides a cure for what ails some children — no access to affordable health care.
As for those people who oppose the legislation, they need a dose of reality. Healthy children mean a healthy future for this nation and the world.