Washington, DC — Senators Edward M. Kennedy, Ken Salazar and Bob Casey joined religious leaders today to discuss the moral obligation Congress and the Administration have to provide children with health care.
Senate Democrats are moving this week to provide – over the President’s objections – health care to millions of children who would otherwise go uninsured. By combining the best of public and private health coverage, the bipartisan plan to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program will ensure all 6.6 million CHIP-covered kids keep their health insurance, and will reach 3.2 million more uninsured children in America’s working families.
"Children in this country have finally been put front and center on the nation’s agenda," Kennedy said. "All children deserve a healthy start in life, and all parents deserve the peace of mind that they can take their child to the doctor if they’re sick. Ten years ago, Senator Orrin Hatch and I wrote the CHIP bill, making a promise to the future of this country. Since that time millions of uninsured children have been give a healthy start and their parents have been given peace of mind. We’re renewing that commitment this week."
Said Salazar: "I believe that it’s our moral and economic obligation in Washington to invest in our children’s healthcare, as our investment today, will pay off tomorrow. Our children’s lack of health insurance is a liability not just for the health of our kids, but for their education and for our future economic security. This week we are taking an important first step to invest in our children, providing health coverage to millions who would otherwise go uninsured."
"Expanding children’s health insurance is not only the moral, but the wise, thing to do. Justice cannot abide the millions of uninsured children with no health insurance," Casey said. "Passing this legislation and overcoming opposition in the White House is one of the great imperatives for the U.S. Senate. Failing to do so will amount to turning our backs on our fellow Americans in need."
Said the Rev. Bill Calhoun of the Montview Presbyterian Church in Denver, Colo.: "We need to move from fear to faith; from kinks that fight funding to faith that helps kids be healthy. We need courage to care for kids."
"It is our obligation to stand here today and say that our nation’s future, our nation’s well being, depends on the physical and mental well being of America’s youth," said Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
Said Pastor Derrick Harkins of 19th Street Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.: "As a nation, there is no greater legacy that we must cultivate than the health, well being, and stability of our children. The reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is essential if our government is to speak with a consistent voice of moral leadership and compassion – compassion that will extend to millions of children who deserve our best efforts at affording them the best of health care. The faith community speaks of hope, and our best hope lies within our children."