(Transcribed from the Senate floor, As Delivered)
Mr. Hatch: I have to say that the original CHIP bill, that virtually everybodyclaims is an excellent piece of legislation that has helped millions of poor children,children from poor families, meant to help the working poor children, the only childrenleft out of the process, wouldn't have come to pass except for the support of thedistinguished senator from Massachusetts.
We both took a lot of flak during those early months when we were trying tosolve this problem of the working poor children. I had two Utah families come in to seeme -- parents. Both parents worked in each case. Each family had six children. Neitherfamily with both incomes had more than $20,000 a year in total gross income. Theyclearly could not afford child health insurance.
CHIP was the only answer to their plight, and they were the only people left outof the process. And they worked. They did the best they could. and I remember when thedistinguished senator from Massachusetts and I sat down together, and we're from twoopposite poles in many respects, although he doesn't realize that he's a lot moreconservative than he thinks. And he thinks I may be a lot more liberal than I think.But when Kennedy and Hatch can get together, people around here say, well, ifthey can get together, anybody can. And people tend to get out of the way because theyknow that it took a lot of effort for us to bring, to come together. but the original CHIPbill could not have occurred but for my distinguished friend from Massachusetts and thework that he did. And even though that hasn't been broadcasted very much in the currentdebates, it's true. And in the current debates, we wouldn't be as far along if it hadn't beenfor the efforts of the distinguished senator from Massachusetts. And there are two sides tothis.
Yes, there's a legitimate side in opposition to having CHIP be $35 billion abovethe baseline of $25 billion. That argument is that we're growing this program too fast andwe're putting too many people in it who were not originally scheduled to be in it. The factof the matter is when we wrote the original CHIP bill we provided for a system ofwaivers because we were afraid we didn't cover some things that should be covered, asyou already know, major pieces of legislation.
What really bothers me is that the people complaining about CHIP costing somuch today in this administration, by the way -- my administration -- the people who arecomplaining are the ones who gave 14 -- well, the tail end of the Clinton administration,but primarily this administration gave 14 waivers to allow this program to go to manymore people than we had originally planned it to go to. In fact, two states have moreadults on the program than they do children. And that's caused a lot of angst. And acouple states are way over the 200% of poverty. People don't seem to -- well, let's put itthis way.
The opponents seem to ignore the fact that this bill covers 92% of kids who areunder 200% of poverty. Yeah, there's 8% or 9% that may be above that because of these,mainly these two states -- New York and New Jersey. But the vast majority of them havelived with this program. but we found that even with the moneys that we had in theoriginal CHIP bill which happened to be $45 billion over ten years, we only spent $40billion over ten years, that it wasn't enough to put all the kids who were he eligible on theprogram. And one of the higher costs we found -- and CBO has documented this. We relyon CBO around here. They're not always right, but at least that's the best we can do. CBOsaid that the high costs come from trying to locate the kids to get them in this program sothat they have a shot at being healthy, so that they aren't liabilities to the society as awhole when they get older.
Now let me just say this, this program's very important. And we fought hard tokeep the program within the $60 billion, $25 billion baseline and $35 billion above thebaseline, or a total of $60 billion. At first those in the house wanted $100 billion. Thenthey came down to $75 billion. finally, to their credit, they acknowledged that we weren'tgoing to be able to do any better than $35 billion over the baseline, and Senator Grassleyand I had to stick with that, in the hope that the administration would recognize how hardwe'd worked, how important this program is, this program that they themselves wouldlike to have, and how difficult it is to get the ten million kids on this that were not put onthis program.
And to be honest with you, that program proved to not be enough. We lost out ona lot of kids that should have had this program. What we're trying to do is cover the kidsthat should be on this program, and they are basically kids of the working poor. we didadd pregnant women because we thought that since this involves children and it's soimportant to have good prenatal care and post-natal care for the health and well-being ofthose children, that that's a logical, legitimate thing to do.
Now what really what bothers me about the arguments on the other side -- now,there are legitimate arguments. There always are on both sides. But what bothers me iswe spend about $1.9 trillion in health care in our society today each year. About $1trillion of it is in the private sector and about $900 billion of it is in the public sector. Andwe're asking for $60 billion out of $1.9 trillion to help the kids that are left out of thisprogram.
CBO says even at that, we will not put enough money into this program. And thenwe have the argument, well, this is leading to one fits all government-mandatedsocialized medicine health care. I think you can make that argument on anything you doon health care around here that involves government. I don't want to go to that. But on theother hand, I don't want to leave these kids high and dry either. So it's very, veryimportant that we get this straight and do what's right here.
Now, I've appreciated the remarks of the distinguished senator fromMassachusetts. many on his side don't care to ever ask where's the money going to comefrom to pay for these things on the other hand, in a $1.9 trillion budget, it seems to me$60 billion is not too much especially since we're covering kids who should be coveredwho weren't covered in a program that virtually everybody says is important, virtuallyeverybody says we ought to have. Just not as much. And even with the $60 billion, it'smy understanding, according to CBO, we will not really cover all of the kids that weshould cover. But we'll cover most of them, which is a big, big improvement over whatthe current program is.
So I join with the distinguished Senator from Massachusetts, hoping that theadministration will listen and maybe change its perception on this. Like I say, there aregood arguments on both sides. I think the better argument is to try and do what we canfor these kids. And that's work on an overall comprehensive health care bill that will savemoney, have less government intrusion, have more private-sector development and givepeople more opportunities of choice, and give them the choice to be able to bring costsdown than the current system. And I think people of goodwill on both sides couldprobably do that if we really set our minds to do it, if we don't make this one great bigpolitical battle all the time.
Unfortunately it is a political battle over CHIP. According to some in theadministration, I'm on the wrong side. I don't think so. I’m on the right side. And Ibelieve this has to be done. That doesn't mean I'm not willing to modify and work and dowhat we can to come up with a comprehensive health care approach that emphascompetition and opportunity that will cover everybody.
I'd like to get there, and this is a bill that doesn't necessarily take us away fromgetting there, but some of these arguments have been offered have been, I think, not verygood or not very accurate.
Mr. Kennedy: Mr. President, I listened carefully to the Senator from Utah. I thinkI want to just say that the six million children that today are covered in all ports of thecountry including my state of Massachusetts would not be, if it wasn't for the Senatorfrom of Utah -- there was a very important insistence that's been sort of lost in this wholediscussion and debate.
The time that we have talked about this program I was very interested inexpanding the Medicaid program and moving that up. We know the Medicaid deal wasfor the very poor. The real question was for the working poor for these programs. SenatorHatch insisted that we should not expand a government program that we have to let thestates participate and involve itself, and this was a very contentious discussion in thedebate, which eventually Senator Hatch was successful in winning.
And then it was going to be that we would establish the criteria at least for thekinds of services that were going to be provided within that kind of a program. And thatwas a very contentious kind of a program.
Again, Senator Hatch insisted that the state should make some judgments on this.And then we had the issues about trying to make sure about the inclusion, having moresweeping, and Senator Hatch stuck by his guns to make sure that the states were going tobe the ones that were going to outreach and set up this program.
So those issues in terms of when we're talking about these clichés of socializedmedicine, a Cuban type of medicine, for those that are really interested in thephilosophical underpin underpinnings of this program and why it is different from otherprograms, if they go back and look and read carefully and read the legislation of the bill, Imust say that Senator Hatch’s position of insisting that the states be -- insisting that thestates will be the full partners and the ones with the responsibilities is the fact.
And in credit to the Senator from Utah, the fact that so many Governors are insupport of this legislation, not Democratic Governors, but Republican Governors becausethey have seen that they have both the responsibility and the opportunity to make adifference for their constituents.
So just a small factoid of the history of the development of this, but it's one thatshouldn't be lost when people are thinking about whether this is just another kind of aprogram, governmental kind of program. The Senator insisted on principle on a numberof these important philosophical issues, and the Senate, in a bipartisan way, cametogether to support the recommendations that eventually were worked out with membersof the finance committee and Senator Baucus, Senator Rockefeller, Senator Chafee, ourother colleagues, and many others on that.
But the underpinnings were the Senator from Utah, and I think history ought toreflect that. I thank you.
Sen. Hatch: Mr. President?
Presiding Officer: The senator from Utah is recognized.
Sen. Hatch: I want to thank my colleague. He’s accurate on everything except onething and that is the six million children that we were supposed to cover we really -- wedid on an annualized basis, but really only about 5 million that were covered fully. And Ijust wanted to add that little bit because it's apparent that this program has worked. It’sapparent that -- that it has worked well under this Administration as well as under theClinton Administration.
It’s apparent that it's helped millions of kids who otherwise wouldn't have beenhelped.
It’s apparent that it's helped children of the working poor, but it hasn't helped allof them who deserve that help. And who, over the long run, if we help them today willsave us money and problems in the future.
And, frankly, this is an important debate and I acknowledge that there are peoplewho disagree with this. There were back then. but the fact of the matter is this is aprogram that's worked and this administration's worked it's worked, the governors haveadmitted it's worked and now it may be mired in some politics that I wish we weren'tmired in.
My attitude is ‘let's think of the kids.’ If there's a way of improving it I’mcertainly open to that, but we've come a long way in a bipartisan way to get to where weare, and that's not easy in a Congress that's been pretty partisan in many respects.So I don't think some have really recognized how difficult it was to get to where we areand how many concessions that both sides have made, but in particular the House hasmade here. So, I think this has been an important part, maybe, of the debate here thismorning.
Melissa Wagoner (202) 224-2633