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Public Statements

30-Something Working Group

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


30-SOMETHING WORKING GROUP -- (House of Representatives - October 04, 2007)

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Mr. RYAN of Ohio. This is about making our country more competitive, period. This is a moral issue. This is an issue that needs to be handled, and needs to be addressed. But as our friend from Cleveland was saying, this is about those kids in Cleveland and Youngstown and Miami becoming more competitive because they are healthier, they go to school healthier, they are not getting all the other kids sick, and therefore everyone in the classroom is at a better starting point to learn.

When you talk about competing with China, you talk about competing with India, 1.3 billion people in each country, and we only have 300 million, we need to get everybody on a level playing field. That is what this Children's Health Care Program does.

Mr. Speaker, look at what the President would do by not signing this bill. Our bill will cover all of these kids. It is a bipartisan bill, the congressional bill that passed; 3.8 million additional kids. Now if the President gets his way, in his budget 840,000 children will lose their SCHIP coverage, because health care costs are going up, more kids are going into the system, the poverty rate is going up. So this is about making us more competitive by making sure that the poor kids, middle-class kids in our country, have an opportunity to get a little bit of health care.

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Mr. RYAN of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, the President said the other day, these kids can go to the emergency room.

Mrs. JONES of Ohio. Have you ever been to the emergency room?

Mr. RYAN of Ohio. Yes.

Mrs. JONES of Ohio. What's it like?

Mr. RYAN of Ohio. If you can get in. For many of the kids, you sit there and wait for hours and hours and hours, if you can even get in; and the cost, and this is the point that we are trying to make, we are trying to save the taxpayers money. There is a reimbursement that goes back to these emergency rooms when they cover charity care when people go in without health insurance.

Mr. Speaker, now, many of us can go, and you talk to the CEO who runs a hospital, and I have one in mind in my district that I talk to all the time, where he tells me at every meeting we are at, whether we are talking about giving money to build another hospital or expand their facilities, or anything else, he always brings this up. I would rather give these kids a prescription for $20 or $30 than to see them two or three weeks later come into the emergency room with pneumonia, and it costs $20,000 or $30,000.

This is what this bill does. This saves us money, not to mention the fact that the kid will miss school, the kid will go to school and get other kids sick. But to have a President of the United States in 2007 lack the sensitivity of what these families go through who do not have health care, to say, well, you can go to the emergency room.

Mr. Speaker, the President doesn't have to go to the emergency room when he goes to a fancy Navy hospital. Many of us, we don't have to go to the emergency room. Many families who have health insurance, they don't have to go. But there is a segment of our population that is forced as a last resort to end up in an emergency room because they have nowhere else to go.

Mrs. JONES of Ohio. Then the President says, if the gentleman will yield, that everybody in America can get health care because they can go to the emergency room. Could you imagine if the 4 million children who don't have any health care coverage lined up in emergency rooms all across America, what a dilemma we would be in. It's just outrageous.

Mr. Speaker, the other important thing we have to think about is the fact that when families have children who are sick in them, that means parents have to stay off work, that means they aren't able to function or pay attention on the job, that means they are dysfunctional at their job if they go there because they are going to have to leave and pick up their children. I mean, it goes on and on and on.

Health care for children is good for America, it's good for American business, it's good for American families. George Bush needs a wake-up call.

Mr. RYAN of Ohio. How about the fact, before I go to my friend, my good friend, how about the fact that we want to help these kids before it's an emergency. You're saying to go to the emergency room. Mr. President, we don't want to wait. Mr. Speaker, we don't want to wait for it to be an emergency, for God's sake.

Now, we understand that the way things have been run by this executive branch over the past 6 years, everything does seem to turn into an emergency. There is always a crisis going on with these guys. But this is about preventive care, saving the taxpayers money, and making very smart, prudent investments with the hard-earned money that people send here.

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Mr. RYAN of Ohio. One of the arguments we get from what is a shrinking minority of Members of the House that aren't helping the override proceedings is that this is socialized medicine. And Bush is saying that this is somehow socialized medicine.

When this bill passed in 1997, there was a Republican House and a Republican Senate and a Democratic President. So what you are saying is Newt Gingrich and friends during the 1990s were for socialized medicine

because they started it. It is an inaccurate argument.

The government is not taking over anything. You are still going to go to your doctor and find out where you want to go, kind of like Medicare. But this is about providing children that are poor with health care. The President is trying to say that he wants to clean it up and he is trying to say that he wants to negotiate. This is different than the House bill that passed. This is the Senate version. The Senate has enough votes to override the veto. As the gentlewoman from Ohio said, there are all these Republican Senators. We have a bunch of Republican House Members. And the other day when we were debating it, there were very few Republican House Members that even wanted to come down here and make the argument about what is going on here.

We continue today, and we will next week and the following week continue to urge the President. But we need the American people to stand up and say can't Congress at least agree on health care for children. And the only roadblock is the President's veto pen and a group of Republicans in the House.

Before I yield, I want to be sure to say that the socialized medicine argument is a red herring because the Republicans created this bill in the 1990s, signed by President Clinton, but in a Republican-controlled House.

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Mr. MEEK of Florida. These are the organizations that would like, that want children to have health care. Am I correct?

Mrs. JONES of Ohio. That's correct.

First Focus of Alexandria; National Association of Community Health Centers; AARP; Action for Children of North Carolina; African American Health Alliance; AIDS Alliance for Children; AIDS Institute; Alliance for Children, Youth & Families; Alliance for Children and Families; Alliance for Excellent Education; Alliance for Retired Americans; Aloha United Way; Ambulatory Pediatric Association; American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; American Academy of Family Physicians; American Academy of Nursing; American Academy of Pediatrics; American Academy of Pediatrics of Colorado; American Academy of Pediatrics of Iowa; American Academy of Pediatrics of Pennsylvania; American Academy of Pediatrics of Rhode Island; American Association of People with Disabilities of Washington, D.C.; the American Association of University Women of Utah; American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities; American Cancer Society; American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; American Counseling Association; American Dental Association; American Dental Hygienists Association; American Diabetes; American Health Quality; American Heart Association; American Humane Association; American Mental Health; American Music Therapy; American Network of Community Options and Resources. All of these organizations want SCHIP to be reauthorized. American Nurses; American Psychiatric Association; American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; AMERIGROUP Corporation; Anchor House.

All of these organizations want SCHIP, and the list goes on. Centene Corporation; Center for Civil Justice; Center for Community Solutions of Cleveland, Ohio; Center for Law and Social Policy; Center for Medicare Advocacy; Center for Public Policy Priorities; Central County United Way; Chicago Foundation for Women; Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative; Child and Family Policy Center; Child Care; Child Welfare; Children First for Oregon; Children Now; Children's Action Alliance; Children's Defense Fund, and the list goes on. How can this President stand up to all 270 organizations?

Mr. RYAN of Ohio. Those groups want it.

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Mr. RYAN of Ohio. I think the debate, too, has gotten a little bit off track, and I quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, find this shameful.

One of the statements made by the President: Democratic Members of Congress are putting health coverage for poor children at risk so they can score political points in Washington.

Now, that's a shame that that kind of rhetoric's coming out of the White House at this point. When you look, as Mrs. Jones has stated earlier, all of the Republicans that are supporting this bill, this is a bipartisan bill. But there is a small fringe group in this House and the White House that will not allow this bill to pass.

Score political points? We're trying to provide health care for kids. This is not where we have a debate and everyone gets little debating points as we go along, and there are a lot of Republicans in this House and in the Senate that want to support children's health care, and for the executive branch to make these kinds of statements I think totally poisons the debate.

Here's another thing that some of our friends are saying on the other side, that SCHIP is incremental steps to a government-run health care program. That's just not true. These are children who are now eligible for the program but there's not enough money in it to actually cover them, we're trying to put the money in to cover them. They will go to private doctors and they will get private health care. They're not going to go to the VA, the government-run veterans hospitals. They're going to go to private docs. They're going to be involved in private health care plans.

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Mr. RYAN of Ohio. I want to say that the most important point that I'd like to highlight before we leave, because I know time is running out, all of the waste over the past 6 years under this administration, with the nonsense with FEMA and trailers sitting in Arkansas somewhere that have rotted, the billions of dollars wasted in Iraq where unbid contracts, Halliburton wasting money, losing hundreds of millions of dollars in cash, the tax cuts that went primarily to the top 1 percent, corporate welfare that goes to the oil companies, $14 or $15 billion, we are starting to rein all that in and the President picks children's health care to draw the line in the sand and say we're spending way too much money?

That is unacceptable, Mr. Speaker. That is unacceptable. All of these opportunities wasted, and now you pick these people? You don't take on the oil companies. You don't take on the top 1 percent

billionaires who got tax cuts. You're going to take on little kids? That's the message? That's your legacy? God bless you.

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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. I mean, what we have tried to do in the 30 Something Working Group is to highlight, particularly when it comes to the domestic agenda of this caucus, what the other side, our good friends on the other side of the aisle's, decisions and the ramifications of those decisions and the impact that they will have.

And we had 45 Republicans do the right thing on this SCHIP vote on this children's health insurance bill, and what we need them to do is cast the right decision again, vote to override the President's veto, and we need about 17 Republicans to come with us to realize that they made the wrong decision in voting against it so that we can make sure that we give access to children, not those who are already covered by private health insurance.

The President has tried to spread the misperception that this program and this expansion is about taking kids off of private health insurance and putting them on government health insurance. That is totally false.

What is actually happening is we are going to expand access to health insurance for children that don't currently have it, for children whose families fall in the gap between Medicaid and private health care. That's what the children's health insurance program has been all about, and we need to make sure that the members of this institution, of the United States House of Representatives, be the representative body that they were elected to be and do the right thing by our kids.

Mr. RYAN of Ohio. I totally agree and that's the point. Every argument that has been put in front of this piece of legislation is a phony argument that doesn't stand the scrutiny of any kind of debate.

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. It's just because when the facts don't meet their views, they make them up.

Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. It's socialized medicine and then people are going to private health care. You say that it's a Democratic ploy and we have all this Republican support. The President says he's for the program, but 840,000 kids would get knocked off of it. It just doesn't work.

So I'm glad we're here to clean it up and come do our job. So good seeing everybody.

Did I announce last night, I wanted to announce before we close that Kelly Pavlik from Youngstown won the middleweight title on Saturday and what a great kid he is.

Mr. MEEK of Florida. We're all happy for him.

Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. So Youngstown, Ohio, is now the home of the WBO/WBC middleweight champion of the world.

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