A little over a year ago, President George W. Bush insisted we could not afford to insure 10 million kids through the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP). Despite broad bi-partisan, non-profit support from the AARP to the YMCA, Bush vetoed the S-CHIP bill. His veto was sustained by just a slim margin in the House (273-156) in what a Free Republic blogger called "standing tall for conservative values."
What a difference an election makes! Democrats vowed to increase our Congressional majorities and elect a President to deliver health care to America's kids. Today, a strengthened Democratic Congress passed H.R. 2, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) Reauthorization bill, by a strong bipartisan vote (289 to 139).
Many of the children helped today are from families of hardworking Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Americans lost 2.6 million jobs last year - over 500,000 in the month of December alone. For every 1 percent increase in the unemployment rate, it is estimated that as many as 1.5 million Americans will lose their health care coverage. A record 47 million Americans, including 9 million children, are without health insurance now. Under H.R, 2, an estimated 11 million American children can receive health care coverage via SCHIP.
Next week, the Senate will pass this essential legislation and send it quickly to President Obama's desk.
With a stroke of his pen, Barack Obama will soon change America's priorities - spending the equivalent of 40 days in Iraq to provide health care for over 10 million children a year through a bill that is timely, targeted, and paid for.
Putting healthy kids first. Paying for prevention and care without heaping mountains of debt on future generations. Now that is standing tall for American values. That is the difference an election makes. That is a promise delivered. That is change we can believe in.