As a school nurse, a mother of three, and a grandmother of seven, I know a thing or two about temper tantrums. Usually they occur when small children are tired, hungry, and frustrated, but yesterday on the House floor I saw a different kind of temper tantrum erupt from some of my Republican colleagues. During debate over a routine agriculture funding bill, some of my Republican colleagues decided to throw a fit over a completely unrelated bill, the Children's Health and Medicare Protection Act of 2007 (CHAMP).
It's baffling that anyone would throw such a fit over the CHAMP bill. This is legislation that will renew the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which currently provides health insurance to six million who otherwise would be without it. It would also expand this coverage to include an additional six million children that aren't covered under the current law. It also makes needed improvements to Medicare to protect the health of seniors and the disabled. And it's all paid for so we aren't adding to the national debt.
Supporting children's health insurance coverage shouldn't be a partisan matter, and historically it has enjoyed broad bipartisan support. In fact, 43 of our nation's governors have endorsed the reauthorization of the legislation and expanding coverage to some degree. The same support is found among countless advocacy groups and healthcare organizations like the American Medical Association, AARP, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and the Children's Defense Fund. In fact, while running for reelection in 2004, President Bush regularly touted his support for the program.
Unfortunately, the president has changed his tune. His proposal for SCHIP would actually reduce coverage for the six million children currently covered by SCHIP and leave the uninsured 12 million still uninsured. He has threatened to veto the bill and yesterday's shenanigans on the House floor show that what Republicans are after is conflict, not progress on meeting our country's challenges. The President and Congressional Republicans seem to think that if they hold their breath and stomp the ground long enough they'll get their way.
The victims of all this absurdity are our children without healthcare and their parents. Can you imagine a young child lacking regular physicals and immunizations? What about the constant fear facing parents who are working hard yet are unable to secure healthcare coverage for their child? Or families who go bankrupt trying to pay for costly emergency care because they lack basic insurance? Imagine if your child didn't have access to routine physicals to ensure that they were growing properly and taking the necessary steps to identify and treat debilitating chronic diseases like juvenile diabetes. Passing the Children's Health and Medicare Protection Act (CHAMP) will be a significant step forward in the effort to make sure parents across our country don't have to face these kinds of questions.
Today, the House will consider the Children's Health and Medicare Protection Act of 2007 (CHAMP Act). I hope that my Republican colleagues had a good night's sleep and a good breakfast so we can avoid another fit of legislative temper tantrums and provide all our kids with healthcare.