Weekly Pulse: Key Dems Back Public Option

 By Lindsay Beyerstein, TMC MediaWire Blogger

The chairs of five key congressional committees have finalized a plan for healthcare reform, and their blueprint includes a critical public option. The chairs' decision to support government-administered health insurance for everyone who wants it is sure to attract ferocious opposition from both the insurance industry and its patrons in the GOP.

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This is how you reform health care

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation/A P/story/886954.html

Yesterday's reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program is an example of how you reform health care.

Incrementally . . . "extending health coverage to 4 million uninsured children".

In easy to digest amounts . . . "an additional $32.8 billion".

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Obama Uses S-CHIP Signing Ceremony To Push Back Against Stimulus Critics

President Obama has just signed into law the expansion of S-CHIP, which will extend health coverage to 4 million additional uninsured children as well as lift the ban on states providing coverage for of the children of legal immigrants.

During his speech at the signing ceremony, Obama pledged that the program would be merely the first step toward fulfilling his promise of universal health care:

The way I see it, providing coverage to 11 million children on CHIP is a downpayment on my commitment to cover every single American.

He also framed the stimulus package as an essential tool to modernize and "rebuild America's health care system" and used the widely aired aigning ceremony to continue to hit back against critics of his economic stimulus package.

In the past few days I've heard criticisms of this plan that frankly echo the very same failed theories that helped lead us into this crisis in the first place. The notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems, that we can address this enormous crisis with half steps and piecemeal measures and tinkering around the edges. That we can ignore fundamental challenges like the high cost of health care and still expect our economy and our country to thrive. I reject these theories and, by the way, so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change. So I urge members of Congress to act without delay.


More please.

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Five years is a lifetime to a child

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

Five years is a lifetime to a child

Like the Bill Murray character in the movie What About Bob, who is so immobilized by fear that he cannot move forward, the U.S. Senate took a "baby step" yesterday toward becoming a functioning institution which actually represents the hopes and needs of the rest of the country.  The Senate passed a law providing health insurance to about 11 million low-income children who have not had access to affordable health care.

Last year the bill, known as SCHIP, died after two Bush vetoes and Republican opposition.  This year, more Democrats in the Senate and House were able to expand SCHIP, but not before some Republicans tried to defeat it by raising the specter of immigrants using services.  The Republicans objected to giving health care coverage to immigrant children whose parents are legal residents of the United States, who live and work in our communities and pay taxes.

One of the most contentious changes in SCHIP, and an improvement over the bill Bush vetoed, is the elimination of the current requirement that children of immigrants who are here legally wait five years before being included.  Five years may seem like a flash to a U.S. Senator - just barely enough time to raise the $15 million+ needed for the next reelection campaign.  

But five years is a lifetime to a child.  That is exactly the phrase average Americans told BRS researchers in focus groups we conducted across the country for the National Immigration Law Center.  When given the chance to think it through, the voters we heard from believe children should not suffer for a situation they did not cause.

Armed with the righteousness of their cause and that simple phrase - five years is a lifetime to a child- SCHIP coalition advocates won their case on Capitol Hill and persuaded them to include legal immigrant children.  The president will sign this bill and the Senate will have done some good. Baby steps.

John Russonello is a partner in the opinion research and message development firm Belden Russonello & Stewart:Public Opinion Research and Strategic Communications in Washington, DC. He writes the blog "Think it Through."

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SCHIP Expansion Passes House By Lopsided Margin

The Associated Press has the details:

The House voted Wednesday to expand government-sponsored health care to 4 million more children of working families, making a down payment on President-elect Obama's promise to provide universal health care to all Americans who want it.

The bill, passed by an overwhelming 289 to 139 vote, would increase federal taxes on cigarettes by 61 cents to a dollar a pack to pay the $32.3 billion cost of expanding State Children's Health Insurance Program for the next 4 1/2 years. Departing President George W. Bush vetoed similar legislation twice in 2007.

Next on to the Senate, where I wouldn't be surprised to see the Republicans rolled in a similar fashion. As I said yesterday, this is a very good start.

Update [2009-1-14 15:38:34 by Jonathan Singer]: Here's the roll call.

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