Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today at an enrollment ceremony for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) legislation.
Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery, as well as background on Graeme Frost – the CHIP participant who joined Senator Reid at the ceremony and is delivering this week’s Democratic Radio Address:
“First, I want to thank the children who are here, especially Graeme Frost and his mother Bonnie. You are the true voice of what we are doing here today, and so I thank Graeme for agreeing to deliver tomorrow’s Democratic Radio Address. I also want to welcome Tobi Drabczyk and her children Severa, Mitchell, Jocelyn, and Arwen for being here.
“There are precious few issues in Washington these days that find broad support across the spectrum. This bill we are sending to the President is the result of a truly bipartisan effort. Chairman Baucus and Senator Rockefeller have worked tirelessly with Senators Grassley and Hatch to make this possible, and I applaud Senators Grassley and Hatch for doing what is right for America’s kids. And it is a national effort – nearly every governor supports this program to improve children’s health care, as do the vast majority of the American people.
“It is unfortunately all too rare to see Democrats and Republicans, healthcare providers and patient advocates, rural and urban Americans, and citizens of all ages come together to fight on the same side of the issue. But that is what has happened here. Unfortunately, there is one man standing on the other side, standing in the way of children getting the health care they need. I do not know why the President wants to pick a political fight over this when it is clear that all Congress and the American people want is to offer health care to children in need.
“We have come together to send the President a strong bill that will cover all 6.6 million low-income children currently in CHIP and provide health insurance to 4 million more. This program will do so not by turning over health insurance to the government, but by combining the best of public and private health coverage so American children get good medical care. It makes sure kids in working families get the doctor visits and medicines they need when they’re sick, and the checkups they need to stay well. And this is why it is so important that the President join us to do the right thing. Rejecting this program – as the President has threatened to do – is both immoral and irresponsible.”
Graeme Frost, 12, was in a serious car accident a few years ago and suffered severe brain trauma. He was in a coma and lost his ability to eat and walk. Fortunately, Graeme was covered by the CHIP program and was able to get the medical care he needed. After extensive therapy and continual treatments at a clinic he goes to every summer, Graeme has regained his functional abilities. He still needs to visit several different specialists, and his mother, Bonnie, says he would not have survived – or would at least be wheelchair-bound – without medical coverage.