Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today on the floor of the U.S. Senate regarding the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, whichimproves the lives of uninsured children by ensuring they get the doctor visits and medicines they need when they’re sick and the checkups they need to stay well. The Senate will consider the bill this week. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“In the last Congress, the United States Senate passed an extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program with an overwhelming majority. In a Congress too often marred by partisan divide, this strong vote in favor of healthy children briefly stood as a bright example of the good that comes from government putting people ahead of politics.
“Regrettably, former President Bush chose to veto our bipartisan children’s health legislation, and just a few too many loyal House Republicans in a narrowly divided Congress stuck with him to uphold his veto.
“In the year and a half since the veto, millions of children have been shut out of regular checkups, medicine and hospital trips. In Nevada, low-income families have been forced to put their children on waiting lists for future health coverage. From coast to coast, more than four million children who would have been covered if our legislation had passed are not getting regular checkups or the care they need when they get sick.
“Jeopardizing the health of American children is not a political victory for anyone, it’s a loss for everyone – and it’s long past time that we corrected it.
“This week we have the chance to keep our promise to America’s children by passing a new Children’s Health Insurance Program. With the support of Democrats and Republicans in Congress and a new president in the White House poised to sign this bill into law, we can ensure that more lower-income families can provide their children with the medical care they need to grow up strong and healthy.
“Our legislation gives states the resources and ability to insure an additional four million children. Our legislation covers the lowest-income children first by giving states new tools to enroll uninsured children who qualify for Medicaid and rewarding states for successful enrollments in the Children’s Health Insurance Program. And our legislation doesn’t just provide more children with health care, but also improves the quality of the care they receive.
“In Nevada and across America, the number of uninsured children is rising. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that for every one-point rise in our national unemployment rate, 700,000 more children join the ranks of the uninsured. In Nevada and across America, the number of uninsured children is rising every day. The number of children who aren’t getting checkups, medicine and emergency care is rising every day.
“This week, the United States Senate will engage in an open, fair and lively debate on this critical legislation. There will surely be points where Democrats and Republicans disagree on specifics. Democrats would have written this legislation to cover more children, but we compromised to create a bill that Republicans would support. Republicans may raise points of concern during the debate, and Democrats will consider their differing views.
“But during this debate, we should remember that the overwhelming majority of Democrats and Republicans agree on the fundamentals of this legislation.
“I look forward to a productive debate. And I look forward to President Obama signing into law an extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program that will allow more children of Nevada and all fifty states to get the care they need and deserve.”