WASHINGTON, DC— Today, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Chairman of the Health,Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, released the following statement in responseto President Bush’s and Secretary Leavitt’s criticism of the Children’s Health InsuranceProgram. The CHIP legislation is fiscally responsible and does not add to the budgetdeficit, paying for the cost of children's health coverage through an increased tax ontobacco. Study after study has shown that increasing the cost of cigarettes reducessmoking, especially among children and teens. The bill thus has a double benefit: itincreases coverage for children, and decreases the staggering toll of illness and deathcaused by youth smoking.
Senator Kennedy said, “Today, President Bush and Health Secretary Leavitt madeabundantly clear that they intend to place children of working families in double jeopardywhen it comes to their health. Not only will the President deny health care to children,but he’ll also do nothing to keep them from smoking. How does Congress negotiatewhen the President repeatedly says no to respectable bipartisan options to truly protectour children?”