Republican Senator Charles Grassley says he’s "frustrated" and "disappointed" with President Bush’s vow to reject a deal that would expand the number of uninsured American kids who qualify for government-paid coverage.
"I explained to him how can you be making a statement on a bill that hasn’t been compromised fully between the house and senate until you’ve actually read it?" Grassley says. Just this morning Grassley spoke with Bush by phone and personally asked the president to back the bill, but Bush held a press conference two hours later, vowing to veto it.
"This children’s health insurance program was a good bill," Grassley says. "…He obviously didn’t agree with me." One of the president’s criticisms is that under the proposal, parents in New York, for example, who make more than $82,000 a year could get the government-paid health care insurance for their kids. Grassley says Bush got that wrong. "He ought to go back and read the bill and then consider again what I said," Grassley says.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says President Bush’s vow to veto the bill which expands the number of American children who get government-paid health care coverage is "absolutely outrageous."
"You know on his watch, the number of children without health care has actually increased to nine million," Clinton told Iowa reporters during a telephone conference call this afternoon. "In the last two years alone, the number has risen by one million children."
Bush argues the bill expands coverage to children with middle class parents who already have insurance for their kids, and would likely drop that in favor of the government-paid plan. Clinton contends children in middle class families represent the fastest-growing group of uninsured children.
"Nearly one-half of the increase in the number of uninsured children was in families with incomes between $40,000 and $80,000 for a family of four," Clinton said. "And the reason for that is that the percentage of people who get health insurance through their workplace is actually diminishing."
Federal officials created the State Children’s Health Insurance Program in 1997 as a means of covering kids with parents not poor enough to qualify for government-paid Medicaid, but not able to afford a private health insurance policy.
"This president apparently believes in covering fewer children and I believe in covering every child," Clinton says.